2002-04-24 / Front Page
K-9 officer, dog rank high in regional contest
MATAWAN — Although they have been officially on the job as a team less than a year, Officer Patrick Walker and his canine partner, Wolf, managed to bring home a trophy from a regional police dog competition.
The contest, which was held by the U.S. Police Canine Association (USPCA), drew more than 50 trained police dogs from several states, including New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland.
"We have been training nonstop," Walker said of their practice regimen for the contest that was held in Long Branch last weekend.
"We are constantly working on all the skills practiced in the competition," he added.
Among the skills tested for police dogs and their handlers were obedience, agility, box searches, criminal apprehension and criminal apprehension with gunfire, which was performed with blank ammunition for the contest.
According to Walker, he and Wolf held up nicely against other K-9 teams from throughout the region, bringing home a third-place trophy for scent work.
To test that skill, Walker and Wolf had to locate a shotgun shell and book of matches, which were dropped randomly in a large wooded area.
"What that shows is that Wolf has the ability to track down evidence that was dropped by a suspect while the suspect was running," said Walker.
Walker and Wolf received an overall combined score of 591.5, well above the 480 mark needed to qualify for the national competition, and received a Patrol Dog-1 certification, which certifies a dog for all types of patrol work.
Although Walker said he expected to earn a certification, he and Wolf did so much better than expected in their first competition that he is contemplating going on to the national competition in Florida in October.
In addition to performing well on the competition field, Walker said, Wolf has been doing an excellent job on the street.
In the short time he has been available to the department, Wolf has successfully assisted Matawan and neighboring police departments in tracking suspects; gone on sweeps with the Bayshore Narcotics Task Force, locating cocaine, heroin and ecstasy; and worked numerous motor vehicle stops.
In addition to their busy patrol work schedule, Walker said, he and Wolf have found the time to speak to numerous organizations around town and gotten to know the community — receiving more positive feedback than they ever expected.
"When we marched in the Memorial Day parade, I think Wolf was the biggest celebrity there. Everyone knew who he was," said Walker. "Whoever we walked past would say, ‘There goes Wolf.’"