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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Four-Legged Friend Inducted into Fairfield Police Force

Four-Legged Friend Inducted 
into Fairfield Police Force:
Ruger becomes third canine 
officer ever in department
By Mike Lauterborn
(Posted to 8/23)
© 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Fairfield, CT – When it came time to accept the honor, he yawned, looked about and licked his owner’s hand. And while he may not have been aware of the significance of the badge that was being attached to his collar, you could be sure that he would fulfill his responsibilities to the best of his ability.

On Monday morning in the briefing/training room on the second floor of Fairfield Police Headquarters, 100 Reef Road, Ruger the German Shepherd was inducted as a K-9 officer into the department. He was only the third dog ever in Fairfield history to become an official police officer. The induction was conducted by First Selectman Michael Tetreau and witnessed by a roomful of people that included media, other officers (current and retired), Animal Control, fire officials, representatives from Sturm, Ruger and Company, and community members.

“This is a true testament that the K-9 program in town is well received,” said Fairfield Police Chief Gary McNamara, looking around at the crowd, which spilled into an outer hall. “If we had a bigger room, we’d have a bigger crowd. The K-9 program is a need that had to be fulfilled. We’ve met that goal and I’m proud to introduce the newest member of the Fairfield Police Department.”

McNamara continued, “Our goal was to reestablish the K-9 program and, in doing so, we first had to determine that there was interest. This is not necessarily the best of times to establish a program, but we had a ton of financial support from all around the area.”

The chief could not thank every supporter but named a few names, which included: Veterinarian Joan Poster (who is providing services for the program), General Electric, People’s United Bank, students from Roger Sherman and McKinley Elementary Schools who collected and redeemed bottles and cans, Wired Wash, Nutmeg Bowl, Sound Tigers, Sportscenter in Shelton, Bearingstar Insurance, Mr. & Mrs. Adam Simon, Joan DuPont, and Westport and Norwalk police departments.

Chairman of the Police Commission, Arthur Hirsch, added his thanks to members of the community that had provided their support, before Ruger and his handler, Officer Kevin Wells, marched in.

“This is Ruger’s first time in front of a crowd. He’s a little unused to it and has just started obedience training,” said Wells, who said “Setz!” repeatedly to the dog to try and get him to heel. As Ruger finally complied, Wells said, “I couldn’t have asked for a better job. He has lived with me for the past two months and is eager to work.”

Tetreau then administered the induction and, after Wells pinned a police badge to Ruger’s collar, Wells read the K-9 Pledge on Ruger’s behalf, reproduced here:

“I promise to be worth every cent of the money it took to train me. I promise to track down criminals who threaten and harm our community. I promise to stand with you against the violence that penetrates our society. I promise to sniff out the drugs being advertised to your children. I promise to stay resolved and focused upon the success of our mission. No matter what happens, I will be by your side as your loyal companion until the very end. I will never leave your side… I will never waiver… I will never give up.”

On a side note, McNamara spoke about how Ruger came by his name. “I felt it was important for Officer Wells to determine it and when he came back and said he’d like to call him ‘Ruger’, I called Leslie Gasper (Corporate Secretary) of Sturm, Ruger & Company to ask if that was ok. She was extremely excited that the new canine would have a portion of their company name.”

To that regard, Sturm Ruger CEO Mike Fifer provided a $2,500 check to the program and gave Wells a goody bag and new 9mm SR9c handgun, which will be engraved with his name.

Only two other dogs have served on the force to date. The most recent was about 10 years ago, according to Lt. Jim Perez, who said the dog only served for a few months before it was decided that it could not be used as needed.

More memorable was Zack, a white German Shepherd that served from 1987 to 1990 under the guidance of Sgt. (RET.) Bill Krafick, who was on hand for Monday’s swearing-in. “This is a nice thing,” he said. “Dogs are good. I know how effective they are.”

To that regard, Krafick related how Zack was used to catch burglars that had dropped down through the roof of the Mercedes dealership on Commerce Drive and were hiding out in the trunk of a car. “Those trunks are air tight – those guys were turning blue when we got to them.” Another time, Zack found a guy hiding in a laundry basket, with clothes arranged over himself.

In Westport, another man, who had stopped taking his medication, destroyed his beach house with an ax and was on the way to do the same at his mother’s house. “Zack found him under a tree hiding under leaves.”

Krafick summed up, “A dog is definitely critical to successful police work. You don’t have to put officers at risk, the dog can track lost people and it will protect the officers on a crime scene.”

Common German dog training command words:
  • Achtung! (Ahk-toong’): Watch! Attention!
  • Aus! (Ows): Out! Drop It! Let Go!
  • Bleib! (Blibe): Stay!
  • Bringen! : Bring! Fetch!
  • Fass! (Fahs):Attack! Take hold!
  • Fuss! (Foos): Heel!
  • Gib Laut! : Bark! Speak!
  • Hier! : Here! Come!
  • Hopp! : Up! Jump!
  • Nein! (Nine):No!
  • Pass auf! (Pahs owf): Pay attention! Heads Up!
  • Pfui! (Foo-ey): Shame! Stop That! Drop That!
  • Platz! (Plots): Down! (Place)
  • Setz! , Setzen! (Zetze’n): Sit!
  • Such! (Zook): Search!
  • Voran! (For-ahn): Go forward! Take the lead!
  • Voraus! (For-ows): Go forward! Run out!

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