We are pleased to add the canine program to our full-service public safety department, said William Bess, DPS director.
We had been evaluating the feasibility of beginning a canine program for more than a year. The out-growth of the events of Sept. 11 increased the security needs on campus, some of which a canine program will be able to address.
Brutus, a two-year-old Belgian malinois, and Jessy, a German shepherd who is almost three years old, are trained to detect weapons and explosives and track people. They are not trained to detect drugs nor to act as attack dogs.
The dogs will allow us to provide a higher level of safety for our campus, said Lt. Joseph Piersante, manager of the DPS police services bureau. Theyll be able to provide an immediate response when we have reports of suspicious packages or bomb threats. Well also be able to track from a scene potential perpetrators who commit crimes, and well be able to locate lost persons, including children, hospital patients and visitors.
|Dogs Jessy (left) and Brutus with their partners, DPS officers Brian Daniels (left) and Mark West. (Photos by Marcia Ledford, U-M Photo Services)|
Im most surprised by how smart the dogs are, West said. Their sense of smell is very strong. They are trained to find more than 100 explosive chemicals.
The dogs were born in Holland, The Netherlands, and trained in Michigan. They respond to the officers verbal foreign commands. The four partners devote two days a month to canine training.
When we are in work mode, they dont respond to English, said West. But when we arent working, they love being around children. They are very people-friendly.
This program allows us to enhance security on campus for everyone, Daniels said. The dogs love to go to work every day, and so do we.