Three new sets of paws and their human partners are graduating from the New Zealand Police Dog Training Centre tomorrow (Thursday, 4 October), set for operational duties in Tasman, Southern and Tamaki Makaurau Districts.
Two of the police officers are experienced handlers qualifying with new dogs, while the third is a first-time handler graduating with his first operational dog.
The graduation is extra special for Constable Regan Mauheni from Dunedin and patrol dog Paikea, as it marks a return to full operational dog section duties after the officer was badly injured two years ago during an Armed Offenders Squad operation in Kawerau, Bay of Plenty.
After undergoing surgery in Waikato and early rehabilitation in Rotorua, Constable Mauheni transferred south to Dunedin to assist his recovery. He has raised Paikea as a foster pup from eight weeks old with the goal of graduating as operational together.
Constable Mauheni joined police 10 years ago and Paikea is his third dog. He’s worked in Invercargill and then joined Rotorua dog section, working with patrol dogs Buck and Thor.
Sergeant Ben O’Connor from Nelson, the officer in charge of Tasman District’s dog section, is graduating with Ace, his fifth patrol dog. Sergeant O’Connor has represented Wellington in the national police dog championships and won twice – first with Utah in 2007 and then in 2014 with Ox who is now retired and lives at home.
Constable Adam Johannsen is a new handler who with Teo will be part of the Auckland dog section with a Tamaki Makaurau beat. Constable Johannsen came to New Zealand from the United Kingdom in 2009. He joined police in 2013 and has worked in various roles in Auckland, and fostered police dogs Bear and Kahu as pups before joining dog section and taking on Teo to train and work with.
“It’s a great day for all the handlers who have put in a huge amount of effort to graduate,” says Inspector Todd Southall, National Coordinator: Police Dogs. “It doesn’t matter if it’s your first dog or your fifth, each dog is a bit different and real success is based on learning to work well together.”
Media Note: Although it’s not possible to attend the graduation ceremony itself, media are welcome to meet and interview the handlers with their dogs, at 2.15pm, Thursday, 4 October, at the Police Dog Training Centre, Dante Road, Trentham. If you’d like to attend, please contact the Police Media Centre. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Photos will also be available late tomorrow on request.