By land, by air – our Police dogs are there

The graduating dog teams and their trainers, from left: Constables Andre Kocis, with Jock; Michael Hargreaves, and Midnight; and Ruan Smit, with Lexx; Sergeant Blair Spalding, trainer; Senior Constable Andrew Lillie, and Buzz; Matt MacDougall, trainer; Constables Aaron Senior, with Cole; Vanja Spiric, with Steel; and Gavin Morrison, with Fender. Photos: Jane Dunn Photography.
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Life is a bit more difficult for criminals on land and in the air after the latest graduation from the Police Dog Training Centre (DTC).

Seven Police patrol dog teams and six Aviation Security (AVSEC) explosives detector dog teams recently graduated from their training.

The weather was unpromising but the rain held off for long enough for the handlers to graduate in front of families, friends, colleagues and other supporters.

Four of the Police handlers are first-timers, graduating with their first dog. The most experienced of the seven, Senior Constable Andrew Lillie, has served 16 years in Police and graduated with his third dog.

Speakers included Acting Assistant Commissioner Jill Rogers, representing Commissioner Andrew Coster, and Karen Urwin, AVSEC Group Manager Operations, who presented certificates to their respective handlers.

Jill congratulated the handlers and acknowledged the work they and their instructors at Trentham and in their districts had put into the training and development of the teams.

The graduation of the AVSEC handlers continued a theme of partnership at the DTC – last month, the centre saw the graduation of police and customs detector dog teams from Fiji, Samoa and Tonga.

“It really is safer communities together,” says Inspector Todd Southall, National Coordinator Police Dogs. “At the DTC we’re really engaging with all partners, nationally and internationally.

“There are five countries in the Pacific who we’re working closely with. Last week we had a meeting with other agencies around breeding. So it’s not just about training, we’re working together closely to look at breeding to meet the increase in demand.

“Other agencies look to us for additional support, which is a sign of New Zealand’s excellent reputation in this area.”

There were a number of extra presentations at the graduation, including Certificates of Appreciation to four foster families who attended to see ‘their’ dogs graduate, and a Certificate of Promotion to trainer Sergeant Matt Fage.

There was a special moment when Todd presented a bouquet to Kaye Calder from the Media and Communications team, who retires from Police next month after 37 years.

He thanked her for her career-long support for Dog Section. For the past 10 years Kaye has held the role of Senior Comms Advisor Reality TV, in which she has supported staff and managed Police input into shows including Dog Squad and its Puppy School spin-off.

Police dog in training