By Peg Lopata, Contributing writer
Hudson – Officer Sam Leandres of the Hudson Police Department has a new partner, Jocko, an 18-month-old male German shepherd.
The name ‘Jocko’ has significant meaning for this police department and the community of Hudson. Jocko is named in honor of John E. “Jocko” Moore, a Hudson police officer who was killed in the line of duty on June 18, 1955.
K-9 and partner bond
Jocko is not on the job yet. But he’s already bonded with Leandres. That’s good news for the entire Hudson Police Department.
“It’s imperative,” Leandres said in a recent interview, “that he and I create a strong bond with one another.”
He added, “Jocko loves to play, go for walks and his favorite time of day is dinner time. He’s a social dog and reacts well when around other people and dogs.”
Though some may be frightened of German shepherds, Chief Richard DiPersio reiterated that “handlers and dogs go through extensive training [to] minimize aggression.”
Leandres and Jocko started that initial training this month. This will involve learning such things as basic obedience, agility, tracking, and evidence recovery.
“I am excited to see what Jocko is capable of learning and putting those skills to work in the field,” said Leandres.
Hudson excited to have an “extra paw” on hand
With Jocko, Hudson police will no longer need to wait for a K-9 unit to come from another town when they need one.
DiPersio says that will have an immediate impact.
“In our line of work, every second counts,” he said.
Currently, Hudson does lean on out-of-town help when it needs a dog to help look for missing persons or suspects who have fled crime scenes, for examples.
With Jocko, the police now have an extra resource for those searches as well as other tasks like searching, clearing buildings and locating narcotics.
“A K-9 unit is a force multiplier,” explained DiPersio. “These dogs are strong, fast, agile, smart, loyal and have a great sense of smell.”
When a job involves finding something or someone, for example, it can normally require a dozen officers. With just one dog on hand, though, that’s not the case.
Their noses aren’t built like ours, DiPersio says. They have some 225 million scent receptors, compared to the five million in the human nose.
K-9 becomes community policing asset
Besides patrolling, Jocko will be part of community events and demonstrations, particularly at Hudson’s annual summer youth police academy. In addition, he’ll work for neighboring communities as needed.
At home, when off-duty, he can relax. But that time won’t necessarily be full of fun.
“Jocko won’t be jumping on the couch or digging holes in Leandres’s backyard,” DiPersio said. “Jocko is a patrol dog, not a pet. Handlers try to keep their K9’s home life somewhat boring, so they are energized when they report to duty. Work for them is their play time.”
Grant helps bring K-9 to town
Jocko’s training, kennel facilities, cruiser upgrades, food, housing and medical care come funded with a three-year, $27,000 grant from the New York/Cambridge-based Stanton Foundation. The department has also already received separate additional donations for Jocko’s care.
After this initial funding runs out, the department will absorb costs associated with Jocko for the remainder of his working life.
That span could last between six and nine years, keeping Jocko on the streets at least through 2027.
“Everyone at the department is excited about our new addition.” DiPersio said, then elaborating about the public’s response to Jocko. “We’ve have had nothing but positive feedback.”
In the coming weeks when Jocko will be in out-and-about training with Leandres, DiPersio encourages passers-by say “hello” and welcome Jocko to town.
Photos/courtesy Police Chief Richard DiPersio