Dogs join the Camden police force

December 28, 2007 8:51:52 PM PST
The city of Camden graduated two new police recruits on Friday. They are dogs.

For the first time in more than a decade, K-9 units will be returning to Camden with the graduation of dogs Zero and Deezl from the Camden County K-9 Academy.

"It's going to be a tremendous asset to the department and good for the community," said Officer Carl Godlewski.

"The K-9 unit affords us an opportunity to be more pro-active instead of reactive," said Officer Zsakheim James.

For 16 weeks, the officers and their K-9s were among other New Jersey law enforcement officers who trained through the New Jersey Police K-9 Association in two specialized and very important fields.

"My dog will be specially trained for detection of explosives. Officer Godlewski's dog will be specially trained for the detection of narcotics," said James.

Police chiefs, sheriffs and officers all recognize the valuable role K-9s have played in law enforcement. In fact, it's hard to imagine how a department like Camden has been able to get along without one.

"They are trained to track persons such as Alzheimer's patients who may have wandered away from their homes," said James.

Retired Sgt. Dennis McSweeney, a nationally recognized K-9 trainer, said the key is the dog's sense of smell, which is 250-million times better than that of a human.

"When you watch the World Trade Center, when I saw the dogs that I trained up there searching for the lost bodies and things like that, it just tells you that we have to be awake every day," said McSweeney.

In a city which continues to be hard hit by crime and violence, Camden's new K-9 units will be working 24-7 beginning on Monday.