By Laura Hayes, Senior Community Reporter
HUDSON — Local kids recently got a taste of what it’s like working with man’s best friend as a police officer.
On the morning of July 20, Hudson Police Youth Academy attendees gathered in front of the Hudson Police Department station to watch K-9 units from Hudson and the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office run through training exercises. They also learned more about why police departments have these dogs in the first place.
The kids watched as the dogs practiced obedience and located evidence in the field. The K-9 officers also showed how the dogs were trained to bite suspects.
Hudson’s K-9 Officer Sam Leandres said the demonstration showed that the officers have control over the dogs.
“They don’t just go out and bite people because they want to, but we do have full control over them,” Leandres said.
One of the dogs was Hudson’s new police dog and Leandres’ partner, Jocko, who is a five-year-old Belgian Malinois.
He was not the original “Jocko,” who started the K-9 Academy with Leandres in March.
Earlier this year, the Hudson Police Department had been interested in getting its first K-9 in 50 years, Leandres said.
They first looked to train an 18-month-old German Shepherd for that role.
“Come to find out, he just didn’t have everything that a police dog needs,” Leandres said. “I like to say that he was just too much of a good boy.”
Earlier this month, the Hudson Police Department posted on its Facebook page that the first dog showed signs of “low work drive.”
After making a switch, Hudson found that the new Jocko was able to successfully complete the academy to become a patrol dog. That included tracking, learning how to search specific areas and buildings, searching for evidence, as well as practicing agility and obedience.
Leandres said he and Jocko will be going back to school in the future for narcotics training.
In the meantime, Leandres and Jocko have been on patrol.
Leandres said the police could go several months before the dog’s skills are needed, but there are some cases where the dog’s an asset.
For example, in his first week on the job, Jocko helped the police locate a suspect in the woods after officers responded to a report of an assault and battery.
“If I wasn’t working or we didn’t have a dog in town, we would have to call out of town, call the state, and then we’d be waiting over 30 plus minutes for a dog,” Leandres said. “At that time, the track odors [dissipate] and people can get away. It’s definitely the advantage of having a dog closer and ready and needed.”
Jocko is named after Hudson Police Officer John E. “Jocko” Moore, who was killed in the line of duty in 1955.
“I thought it was super cool just to see them bite, and I thought that it was cool that they teach the dogs not to chew, but only to grab,” said Youth Academy attendee Angelina DaSilva after the presentation July 20.