Police dogs get their day: New memorial honors their contributions

For 80 years, dogs have been a vital part of the Connecticut State Police team by finding criminals, detecting explosives and locating cadavers.

Now these canines have their own memorial at State Police headquarters in Middletown.

State officials have unveiled a memorial to the police dogs that have faithfully served Connecticut during the past eight decades.

“The canines who assist troopers every day are true heroes,” said State Police Sgt. James Kodzis, commander of the department’s canine unit. “They train hard and they work hard. They are loyal and committed to their handlers.”

Train teams from around the world

The Connecticut State Police canine program has been a leader in building law enforcement K-9 teams since 1934. State troopers assigned to the canine unit train fellow state troopers in addition to local officers, correction officers and out-of-state officers.

Canine teams from other countries such as Greece, Cyprus and Egypt have trained in the state and the U.S. State Department and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms modeled its canine program on explosives after the one created by the Connecticut State Police.

The State Police trains all dogs as a courtesy to other agencies and does not charge fees.

Help in many ways

The State Police trains four types of dogs:

Patrol Dogs — Multipurpose dogs used to conduct tracks for criminals or missing persons, handler/officer protection, apprehend criminals during building and area searches, and evidence recovery.

Bloodhounds — Tracking dogs used if patrol dogs are unsuccessful.

Search and Rescue Dogs — Used to locate people alive or recover deceased humans. They are used when a scent trail has become stale or contaminated to the point that patrol dogs and bloodhounds are unsuccessful. These K-9s are deployed in teams to cover large areas and, unlike tracking dogs, are looking for any human scent within the search area.

Detection Dogs — Dogs that can detect narcotics, accelerants, explosives and, in the newest development, canines trained as the world’s first “Electronic Storage Device Detector Dog.”

Boosting ‘our crime-fighting abilities’

Helping to display the new memorial were Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman and Dora B. Schriro, state emergency services and public protection commissioner. The Connecticut State Police is a division of that department. State Police commanders, Col. Brian Meraviglia and Lt. Col. Warren Hyatt, were also on hand for the unveiling.

“We are proud of the service that our canine teams provide to the people of Connecticut,”  Schriro said. “For 80 years, these teams have set the standard for law enforcement and made a tremendous difference in our crime-fighting abilities.”

The public is welcome to view the State Police canine memorial outside the front entrance to State Police headquarters, 1111 Country Club Road, Middletown.