Six new detector dogs are set to start work in New Zealand and the Pacific on the hunt for narcotics, dodgy cash or firearms and explosives after they and their handlers graduate from the New Zealand Police Dog Training Centre today.
The officers will be working in Wellington, Christchurch, Hawke’s Bay, Fiji and Tonga. Three of the New Zealand officers are experienced handlers qualifying with new dogs, while the fourth, Senior Constable Bridget Rickard, is qualifying for the first time as part of her role at the Dog Training Centre. She’s also the first female New Zealand Police officer to qualify as a detector dog handler. The two officers from Fiji and Tonga are first time handlers.
Inspector Todd Southall, National Coordinator: Police Dogs, says passing the qualification course is a significant achievement for handlers, no matter if it’s with their first dog or with their tenth.
“Highly trained dogs and handlers have a vital job for us in drugs or firearms and explosives detection work,” he says.
Today’s graduation is also another important part of the Pacific Detector Dog Programme building capability in the breeding of police dogs and the training of dog handlers in Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and Cook Islands jurisdictions.
The programme is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and draws on the expertise of New Zealand Police and New Zealand Customs Service staff.
Graduating today are:
• Senior Constable Bruce Lamb and Luther (13 months), Christchurch. He joined Police in 1978 and has worked in Christchurch ever since, with 32 years in Dog Section. His previous patrol dogs were Rebel, Sabre, Finn, Maca and Gage who was fatally shot in 2010, and first detector dog was Mylo with the pair becoming national detector dog champions in 2014.
• Senior Constable Grant Diver and Ky (16 months), Hawke’s Bay. He’s been in police 36 years and all but three years as a dog handler in Eastern District. He’s had several patrol dogs and two detector dogs who were German Shepherds. Ky is his first Labrador detector dog.
• Senior Constable Hamish Todd and firearms detector dog King (16 months), Wellington. He joined Police in 1986 and has been a dog handler since 1995. He’s worked three patrol dogs, three explosives detector dogs and three firearms detector dogs.
• Senior Constable Bridget Rickard and Luey (13 months), Police Dog Training Centre. She’s been in police 28 years working frontline, Intelligence, community policing and training roles in Northland, Auckland, the Hutt, RNZPC and at the DTC. This is Senior Constable Rickard’s first detector dog qualification, although she’s no stranger to dogs having fostered many police pups and is actively involved in helping with training detector dogs.
• Constable Neumi Waqanokonoko and Kaleb (16 months) from Fiji Police. This first time handler joined the national Fire Brigade in 2010 and served for six years before joining the Fiji Police in 2016.
• Constable Samuel Pekipaki and Kode (16 months) from Tonga Police. This first time handler joined Tonga Police in 2012.
The K and L litter dogs are all New Zealand Police bred dogs. Ky, Kaleb and King are brothers and Kode is their sister. Kanga, another sibling, is working in the Northern Territories while Kiwi is a breeding dog for Border Force in Australia.
Kaleb will be heading to Fiji with Constable Waqanokonoko while Constable Pekipaki is taking over another detector dog already in Tonga.
Luther and Luey are brothers. Luey is also heading to Fiji to work.
Media are welcome to attend today’s graduation which starts at 1pm, Police Dog Training Centre, Dante Road, Trentham.
Please arrive at 12.50pm and email attendance to: firstname.lastname@example.org