K-9s, police handlers saluted at 'graduation'

Some of the graduates were a little rambunctious, but the canine cacophony could be excused since Thursday’s event was a celebration.

A brief “graduation” ceremony for six police K-9s and their companion officers was held at Police Department headquarters, marking completion of 12 weeks of training and certification for canines and humans alike.

“Our communities today are safer,” said Police Chief Gary MacNamara. “Having dogs that are police canines certainly make our departments better.”

MacNamara said the establishing a police K-9 unit doesn’t happen over night. “It takes dedicated officers willing to serve,” along with an invested community and good training. “I commend all of these officers for their efforts and dedication during this training.”

In Fairfield, Officer Kevin Wells and his new dog, Jagger, and Officer Evan Kaesmann, with Maverick, received their certificates for passing both state and national testing. Both dogs are German shepherds.

Wells previously had been handler for the department’s only K-9, Ruger, but Ruger had to retire because of health issues. Costs of the department’s K-9 unit are covered completely through donations.

“It is, in one sense, a new technology that we’re using very effectively,” First Selectman Michael Tetreau said.

Frank Reda, from Superior K-9, which conducted the training, said, “This is a big day for these guys.” He said the officers “poured their heart and soul” into the training program.

Other graduates were: Seymour Officer Matthew Butler and Rex; Firefighter David Lenart and Ponch from Derby Ambulance Rescue, and Trumbull Officer Richard Carlson, with Cyrus, and Officer Gregory Lee with Storm.

The dogs can be trained for either drug- or bomb-sniffing, or for search-and-rescue operations.