Meet Man’s Best Friend, also a Winning Cop

March 14, 2014

Master Patrol Officer James Connor and Looch make a winning team. Looch is wearing the bulletproof vest donated to the HPD in memory of George Kessel.

by Doug Robinson

With a single command, Looch lunges forward, entering the unlit house to find the hidden prey.  Using his keen sense of smell, combined with his years of training, Looch travels from room to room, closet to closet, as he methodically attacks the house to find the hidden person.

Tethered to a long leash, Looch quickly assesses each area and moves on.  He circles back, pauses, then continues his search.

Dressed in protective clothing, the target led him deep into the back of the house, behind a fake wall.

Looch located the target but was stopped by a false door.  Looch moved the false door with his nose, and captured his target.  With his jaws firmly gripping the target’s arm, he easily tugged the would-be bad guy into the waiting presence of his handler, Master Patrol Officer James Connor.

With the man in police custody, Looch set off to find the narcotics.  This time the command was different, and Looch’s search pattern was changed.  He was using a totally different set of learned skills.

This time, Looch could be seen jumping on counter tops, sniffing into the lower cupboards of the kitchen, and checking all areas of the bathroom that the human eye could not see.  With his senses on high alert, Looch triggered his find by simply sitting.  When given another command, he again jumped up on the counter, and stuck his nose at the exact location of the narcotics on the second shelf.  He barks for the first and only time.

Looch never gives up until he finds what he wants.

A three-year-old German Shepherd, Looch has been a Hudson police officer since August 2011. He was purchased from a breeder who specializes in police dogs.

Under the direction and care of his handler, James Connor, Looch has worked alongside all of the men and women of the Hudson Police Department.

“Looch has a great demeanor,” commented Connor.  “He is polite, friendly, loves people, and is extremely obedient.  He loves to work out to perfect his search skills, whether those skills are used to find a person, evidence or drugs. The difference between a good police dog and a great police dog is their individual temperament and ability to adjust to different situations quickly.”

Under the direction and supervision of Boston K9 Police Officer Troy Casey, Looch was first trained at the Boston Police Academy, where he underwent 15 weeks of patrol training and six weeks of narcotics training.  He was taught how to assist police officers in the field as they performed their duties.

“I look for a dog that is confident, has a good stable temperament, free attitude, a lot of play drive, and who likes to hunt.  I look for dogs that have that connection with their handler and the dog handler who respects their dog,” explained Casey during a YouTube K9 training video.  “Police dogs are motivated for a reward and police dogs do not lose.  Their work is physically demanding and, they always come out the winner.”

In addition to Looch’s training at the Boston K9 Academy, he has received certifications by the U.S. Police Canine Association in the areas of narcotics detection and patrol work.  Furthermore, the International Police and Working Dog Association have also certified Looch in narcotics detection.

“Looch is part of the big picture here at the HPD,” said Officer Conner.  “Every police officer in Hudson spends a lot of training time with Looch to improve their police skills.  Each week officers team up with Looch in an effort to not only improve Looch’s skills, but also improve their police skills as well.  The education bi-product is that all team members learn how to become better and more effective.”

In addition, the Hudson Fire Department also partners with the training of Looch.  During their training exercises, firefighters often volunteer to “plant the narcotics” in a training facility some place for Looch to find.  “This partnership affords the HPD to work closely with the HFD to save more lives and to be more effective,” continued Conner.

The Hudson Highway Department offers their building to assist in training.  “I am afforded access to their building during the highway department off hours to train Looch,” explained Connor.  “Use of their facility affords us the opportunity to continue to train Looch in a commercial setting as well as a residential setting.  In addition, the highway department should be recognized for their help with the upkeep of the agility field and the equipment with which we use to train.”

It is the team approach that helps Looch succeed.  “It has to be a team effort for us to be successful as each officer has their specific duties that need to be done when Looch becomes involved with an investigation,” Connor said.  “From the detective division to the patrol division, to the Citizens Police Academy, to community policing, including the highway and the fire departments, I am fortunate to have a team of dedicated professionals who are equally committed to the K9 program in Hudson.  It is because of this dedication that Looch is always a winning cop — always.”