3 K-9s join region's departments

Three area police departments are getting fresh four-legged officers: Chase, Mac and Knox.

The dogs graduated last month from the Orange County Sheriff's K-9 Training Facility in Montgomery.

"We teach them some of the skills in the field," said Sgt. Dave Campbell, a dog trainer. One of the most important skills is tracking, where the dog can follow where a person has walked or run.

"We teach them how to sniff underneath a door and bark to indicate that someone is hiding behind it. Another thing we do is article search and evidence," Campbell said. "That is where the dog sniffs out a human scent on an article that has been left behind. For example, my dog sniffed out a rifle hidden under a bunch of leaves."

Officers worked with their dogs for 16 weeks, for 40 hours a week. Chase is assigned to Officer Don Decker in the Village of Liberty; Mac to Officer William Conklin in Port Jervis and Knox to Officer Jason Ross in the Town of New Windsor.

"There are days you have to have a lot of patience with your partner," Decker said. "Overall, it is the best thing I have ever done since I became a police officer."

Decker said he totally trusts his partner. Chase lives in Decker's home. "He is right there for me and I am there for him when he needs something."

In September, the dogs will be cross-trained for six weeks in either narcotics or explosives detection.

vwhitman@th-record.com

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