By Walter J. O’Neill, Jr
Long Branch — The Vincent J. Borelli Auditorium at the Long Branch High School has been home to many outstanding performances. However, on January 23, the show went to the dogs, as the Long Branch Police Department held a graduation ceremony for Canine Basic Patrol School, the second such class they have certified.
Long Branch Public Safety Director Jason Roebuck welcomed the K-9 trainers, their respective police departments, family members and special dignitaries who were in attendance. Roebuck said that this was the second Canine Basic Patrol School the Long Branch Police Department hosted and instructed.
Captain Robert Wiener, a former K-9 officer spoke about the program.
“About 17 years ago I was in a similar situation as these officers are today, I was graduating with my K-9 partner Quando, a 14-month-old Dutch Sheppard,” said Wiener. He added that the K-9 training he endured was some of the hardest and most intense training he has had in his career. “The bond that develops between a handler and his K-9 partner is so strong that he will give his life to protect yours.”
Wiener then went on to describe how important a K-9 unit is to a community. He said that sometimes relations with the residents can be strained, but a K-9 is a great tool for building respect and developing a line of communication with a community.
“It allows an officer to reach out and connect with people they normally could not connect with without a K-9 partner. It allows the officer to be more approachable and to develop and foster a connection with the community. Having the mere presence of a K-9 at an incident can quickly deescalate the tension,” said Wiener.
It took some arm bending and convincing, according to Wiener, to have Director Roebuck approve the training class and allow Sergeant Robert Shamrock to instruct.
Canine Basic Patrol School is a four-month program, and it is just as hard on the handler as it is on the dogs. Shamrock was not only the instructor, he was also breaking in his third K-9 partner in 15 years.
The 2015 graduates are:
• Sgt, Robert Shamrock and K9 Ugo of the Long Branch PD
• Officer Anthony Carafa and K9 Bia of the Allenhust PD
• Sgt. John Adams and K9 Ugo of the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department
• S.O. Michael Fiorentino and K9 Utah of the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department
• S.O. Kevin Fennessy and K9 Stosh of the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department
• Officer Stanley Balmer and K9 Hunter of the Red Bank PD
• Officer Ed Lister and K9 Titan of the Wall Township PD
• Officer Nicholas McGavin and K9 Remmi of the Ocean Township (Ocean County) PD
The next step in training is that the handlers and K9 will go through a 10-week course on drug and bomb detection. Shamrock will be leading this next phase of training as well.