Have you met Marcus?
Island resident Donna Corey recently spoke with K-9 Police Officer Joe DeMatteo about Marcus, the police dog that came to the island in June 2014. This is the first in a two-part interview.
Q: How old was Marcus when he came to you?
A: He was 13 months old.
Q: What was involved in Marcus' training? How long did it take and where?
A: When I was paired up with Marcus, we trained three to five days a week for about 14 to 16 weeks. I was very fortunate that the trainer I went to, Roger Riorden, was able to work with me on my days off so I did not have to find someone to cover my shifts at work. The school would start with the patrol aspect of training, which would cover obedience, tracking, article search, scent detection, criminal apprehension, and narcotics. We trained all over the state of Rhode Island.
Q: Do you need special equipment for Marcus?
A: K-9 units today are much more sophisticated and they’re designed with the safety of the animal in mind. For example, each canine car or SUV is equipped with a specially designed area within the vehicle. In addition, smart systems, such as the Hot-N-Pop, are installed in vehicles used to transport K-9s.
Hot-N-Pop is a multi-use system that’s able to sense when the interior of the vehicle has become too hot for the dog, so it automatically rolls down the rear windows (windows have metal screens to prevent the dog from jumping out), and activates large window fans that bring in fresh air to help cool the dog. The Hot-N-Pop also activates the car’s emergency lights and horn, as well as sending a signal to a pager worn by the canine handler. Window fans activate when the interior temperature is too high.
Another feature of the Hot-N-Pop is the automatic rear door opener. If the handler is in trouble and needs the assistance of his canine partner, he or she uses a remote control to open a rear car door, releasing the dog.
Q: What does Marcus do on Block Island?
A: Marcus is a dual-purpose dog. He is a patrol/narcotics detection dog. He certified in patrol, tracking, article search, scent detection, and criminal apprehension. Marcus will patrol with me on on my day-to-day activites. He is a great partner to have. We meet our incoming boats and planes, and perform random narcotic searches in our school. We also have K-9 demos. He is a great deterrent for crime and a force multiplier.