The ASU Police Department’s first K-9 unit was sworn into duty Tuesday and has been unleashed on the ASU campus and community.
Disney, a nearly 2-year-old Labrador retriever, is handled by Detective Parker Dunwoody and trained to sniff through buildings to make them safe for the public.
“This is why I got into law enforcement,” Dunwoody said. “When the opportunity arose at ASU, I jumped at it.”
Disney will be used at large events all across the Valley and has already been working ASU football games.
She has also worked a U2 and Black Eyed Peas concert held at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in attendance, he said.
Disney went through four months of training before going through 10 additional weeks of training with Dunwoody.
“She is going to be a great addition to the department,” he said.
The ASU Police Department had tried to obtain a police dog several times since 2000, but help from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) finalized the deal.
William Newell, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF Phoenix division, got in contact with ASU Chief of Police John Pickens about a year ago to discuss bringing a police dog to ASU.
“This is a program that we are very proud of at ATF,” Newell said.
The dogs spend six to eight years of their life on the job and retire around age 10, he said.
The program looks for certain personalities from the young Labradors before they train them to sniff out thousands of different objects, Newell said.
“The dogs that are inquisitive and eager are the dogs we want,” he said.
The next step in the process was finding an officer to handle the dog, a job that Dunwoody was eager to take on.
He said people are happier to see him now that a dog is by his side.
“He has the best job in the department,” Pickens said. “Disney overshadows him of course.”
Though he was called the “lesser half” by another officer, Dunwoody said he is happy with the new addition to his family.
Disney will travel with him in a special patrol car that is equipped with sensors in case the car becomes too hot while she is inside.
“Nowadays more agencies are making sure their dogs are protected,” Dunwoody said.
If the car temperature begins to heat up, fans will begin to blow, alarms will go off and lights will go on. Dunwoody will also receive a page if the alarm sounds.
Adding a police dog to the department can be difficult because safety and comfort is a major concern, Newell said.
The process of obtaining the dog is not easy, and the program is strict about where its dogs are sent.
“We want to make sure that when we marry the dog to the officer, she is treated like a queen,” Newell said.
Disney claimed her throne with the ASU Police.
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