Woman makes history as first female K-9 officer in Camden

CAMDEN, N.J. (WPVI) -- The Camden County Police K-9 Unit is welcoming two new members, one of whom is making history.

Peyton the yellow lab almost has his own badge, and he is partnered with the first woman to become a K-9 officer in Camden's history.

Officer Gabrielle Camacho graduated from the academy two years ago, then recently decided to go to the K-9 Academy.

"We bonded very quickly. I actually got him a month ago, and we just instantly bonded," said Camacho.

So why did it take this long to add a female officer in the mix?

"Up until this point in time, we did not have that many female officers," said Camden County Police Chief Scott Thompson. "We never had one put in for the assignment, but now we have a significant amount of female officers."

"I would like to think when it comes to officers, it doesn't matter, male or female," said Camacho. "We all come here, and do the exact same jobs."

Peyton lives at home with Camacho and her father, who is a captain on the force.

On Friday, county and state officials talked about the importance of dogs like Peyton who sniff out narcotics in a city besieged with drugs, saying it helps the nation fight the epidemic of drug use.

The American Humane Society donated five body armor dog vests. The police department has eight K-9's now, and hopes to eventually have 12 or 15.

Peyton and Camacho will have two roles.

"It will be hugs and kisses, and detecting narcotics," said Thompson. "When she's not specifically on an assignment, she'll be in the schools and doing outreach with the community."

Peyton and Officer Camacho will graduate the academy in June. Then they will hit the streets together.

"I've been so used to dealing with humans so going from that transition is completely wild," said Camacho.

When asked which one's better, Camacho says, "probably the dog," with a laugh.
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