It’s a pup’s life for five-month-old Labrador Buddy - unaware of the important role he will play when he joins the Lincolnshire Police dogs already sniffing out crime across the county.
Since Buddy was gifted to the force, and handed over to PC Dave Chadwick at nine weeks old, life has been like that of any other puppy.
“We are teaching him the basics, but training won’t begin until he’s about 11 months old - then he will go off on a six-week course with the Leicestershire Police Dogs Section before becoming operational,” said PC Chadwick.
Buddy is one of eight new specialist search dogs being trained to save officers vital time in tracking down evidence of criminal activity - including the rising problem of incidents involving electronic devices.
Likely to be Spaniels and Labradors, these crime-busting canines will also be trained to sniff out firearms, drugs, explosives and cash. The pup was introduced to the public at a demonstration at the Lincolnshire Police dog section headquarters at Lincolnshire Showground, where old timers such as eight-year-old PD Archie also showed their skills.
PD Archie is one of three specialist search dogs which are already trained and operational in the county.
Money was hidden in a cylinder on a kichen unit and inside a pile of wood and PD Archie had a ball sniffing it out - quite literally.
“Searching for money is quite easy for a dog to demonstrate because it has a strong smell,” said his handler PC Neil Gridley. They have been a team since Archie was 14 months old, working alongside officers on drugs warrants and with the firearms teams. “All training is done on a reward basis - as far as Archie is concerned he is looking for a tennis ball. It’s all he wants in life really.”
PC Gridley has three police dogs at present - one of them retired. “Archie is coming to the end of his career. We’ll let him work while he is still interested, but when that ends we’ll retire him and I’ll keep him as a pet.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones explained why the investment was so welcome - with one specialist dog able to do the work of 10 officers in a search situation. He said: “The addition of this superb canine capability will help Lincolnshire Police to take the fighting of crime to those serious criminals who have no regard for the mayhem and misery they inflict on our communities. As a result of the support from residents for increasing council tax this year it has been possible to provide the Chief Constable with vital funding that he is putting to great effect to protect the people of Lincolnshire. “This is just one example of how taxpayers’ money is being spent wisely in the fight against crime in our county and one that I am very pleased to welcome.”
Once the new search dogs are trained, they will be partnered with the force’s dog handlers who already possess a general purpose dog. These dogs are trained to search for suspects or missing people through tracking, and they can locate items that have been dropped or concealed during a police incident. They can also chase and detain violent suspects who run away when challenged to great effect. Assistant Chief Constable, Kerrin Wilson, says: “I am very excited that we are adding to the capabilities of our dog section and in particular, adding dogs to our ranks that can sniff out electronic devices, mobile phones and even SIM cards. This means if you were thinking of hiding something from us when we come to do a search, you’re wasting your time. I am an avid fan of the dog section and the capabilities it offers us in protecting our communities, enhancing the section would not have been possible without the PCC increasing the council tax precept for policingand this vital service.”
It will be a few months before Buddy joins frontline the ranks of the Dog Section. PC Chadwick said: “Until then it’s all about play. But who else gets to take their dog to work? It’s the best job in the world.”