Tell us about your partner.
Von is a five-year-old, seventy-four-pound German shepherd; we’ve been working together since he was three. He’s very affectionate, intelligent, and well mannered; he knows when it’s time to work and when it’s time to play, and he enjoys doing both. He’s so smart that if I am walking out in plain clothes, he knows to go do his business. But if I leave the house with him while in uniform, he runs right to the car.
What are Von’s main duties?
He’s a dual-purpose police dog, meaning that he’s trained in narcotics detection and patrol work, like tracking people or things, and doing searches, such as finding a weapon that’s been used in a crime. He’s also trained in handler protection—if I’ve stopped a car and a driver resists arrest, he might help apprehend the guy and hold him until I can put the handcuffs on. In that situation, I push a button on my belt to activate a special bailout door system that opens the rear door of the car to let him out.
How does a canine partner differ from a human one?
I think it’s the bond. You make great friends at work and the camaraderie is there, but you develop a special bond with a dog. He’s very protective of me.
How many officers and dogs are in your K-9 unit?
We currently have two police officer handlers and two dogs. Our other dog, Arby, is eight years old and also a German shepherd.
Has Von ever apprehended a suspect?
Not yet. But he has located narcotics and drug money.
Where does Von live when he’s off-duty?
With me and my other dog, Brox, a seven-year-old pit bull that I rescued from Mount Vernon.
What has been Von’s biggest contribution to date?
While conducting an exterior search of a vehicle pulled over on the Hutch, Von was alerted to the odor of narcotics coming from the trunk. After a search warrant was obtained for the vehicle, we discovered a kilo of cocaine in a laptop bag in the trunk.
Your canine partner doesn’t get a paycheck. How is he rewarded for a job well done?
I give him a toy—there’s a Kong rubber cone that he loves to play with—but no treats.
Is there any downside to working with a police dog?
I love every moment of it. But you’re pretty much setting yourself up for heartache because we all know that dogs don’t live forever.
Does Von ever misbehave?
He once stole my steak off the kitchen counter while I was watching a Jets game. I heard the plate crash—it had landed upside down covering the steak and, when I came in, he was still trying to get at it.