Woodland Police add four-legged officer

Published 3:36 pm Sunday, May 16, 2010

WOODLAND — There’s a new addition to the Woodland Police Department with some unusual qualities: he’s furry, overly energetic and awful fond of his yellow tennis ball.

His name is Cap and he’s a police dog, yet another line of defense in keeping citizens in the town and surrounding areas safe.

“He has been very instrumental in helping in some cases,” said Woodland Police Chief Jesse Stevens. “He has been very well worth what we have invested in him.”

In the few months the one and a half year old German Shepard has been with the department, he’s already sought out such illicit drugs as cocaine and marijuana as well as assisted other law enforcement agencies such as the Northampton County Sheriff’s Department in searches as well.

Cap is trained in finding marijuana, cocaine, heroine, pills and other items and will soon be trained in tracking as well.

The K-9 was able to be purchased by the department with funds set aside for undercover drug investigations.

“That funding was not being used and we thought having the dog was more important,” said Stevens.

Cap, who is of 100 percent European descent, was purchased from local breeder Chris Buffaloe who owns Tri-County K-9. Stevens said Buffaloe has provided many area law enforcement agencies with K-9s.

WPD Officer Christopher Boden, Cap’s handler, has made connections with other area K-9 units during training sessions. Boden said those relationships will come in handy when the dogs have to work together in the field.

Stevens noted the importance of Cap’s presence (as well as the other K-9s in the area) for not only Woodland, but the general area where there tends to be a shortage of police dogs. Now with Cap, there’s yet another K-9 waiting in the wings to help law enforcement officers in Northampton and even neighboring counties like Hertford and Bertie.

Stevens said having Cap cuts down the amount of time law enforcement officers in the area spend waiting for a dog to come from Roanoke Rapids, Tillery or Gates County.

“Before there may have been a 30-minute to an hour wait or even greater,” he said. “We’re trying to eliminate that by coordinating a network (of police dogs).”

Local law enforcement agencies have been supportive in the addition of Cap to the department. Roanoke Rapids Police Department recently donated a $1,500 dog box so the K-9 can be transported to different scenes.

“We initially got him two and a half, three months ago,” said Stevens. “We kept it on the quiet end because we wanted the element of surprise.”

But now the cat…er…the dog is out of the bag. Stevens and Boden have introduced the K-9 to the community, especially the children, by way of the Village in Action Community Center as well as the Woodland Housing Project.

Those introductions are yet another way for the officers and Cap to become visible and trusted in the community and for those rumors and assumptions of K-9s to become unfounded. Boden said a police dog can be well tempered and do its job.

Boden should know as when he goes home at night Cap becomes part of his own family, which includes three children.

“He’s very good tempered,” he said.

Though Cap seems like your typical playful dog, with a simple command from Boden he quickly turns into a highly skilled animal. Boden said he had to go through more than 72 hours of initial training with the dog and that training continues on a monthly basis and daily at home.

Boden dismisses those assumptions about police dogs as Cap is only alerted when he smells narcotics.

Like the officers of the police department, Stevens wants Cap to form a relationship to the community.

“We’re here for the community, we want community involvement and we want to form that bond between the community and the officers,” he said.