The Colonie Police Department began the K-9 Unit in 1978. In that time seven dogs have proudly served the department.
Initially, the German Shepherds who served the department in the 1980s were "single purpose" dogs. These dogs were used for tracking, searches, and handler protection. K-9 Baron (and retired handler Bruce Harper), and K-9 Randy (handler Joe Fitzsimmons, now a Deputy Chief) helped bring the police K-9 into the daily operation of the Colonie Police Department. Current patrol K-9s are "dual-purpose," handling both patrol functions and narcotic detection.
K-9 Emir, the first dual-purpose Shepherd, served the department with handler Mike Cerone for many years. After Mike and Emir, Chris Ruff with K-9 Sampson and Jeff Hellkamp with his two dogs, Czar and Hano served also as dual purpose teams. All of the these dogs have since retired.
The Department has also used Labrador Retrievers for narcotic detection. Dusty was the first Retriever used by the department. Dallas was the second Retriever used. Dusty and his handler Inv. Jay Gerace and Dallas and his handler now Lt. Alex Rinaldi worked together for years and had an excellent reputation among local, state, and federal agencies for detecting narcotics.
Sadly, Baron, Randy, Emir, Czar, Sampson, Hano Dusty and Dallas have all passed on after many years of faithful service to the Town and its residents.
Two dogs currently serve the Police Department. These are K-9 Beny and K-9 Patriot (German Shepherds). K-9 Beny's handler is Officer Gerald Shaw and K-9 Patriot's handler is Officer Mark Mauro.
K9 Beny pictured left with his handler Ptl Gerald Shaw is a 8year old German Shepherd. Both Officer and K9 received their training at the Onondaga County Sheriffs Department. Officer Shaw and Beny hold dual-certification in patrol work and narcotic detection. They are currently on patrol on the A-Line (midnight) shift.
K-9 Patriot is an 7 year old German Shepherd from Czechoslovakia and she is the first female canine in the Colonie Police Department. Patriot and her Handler, Patrolman Mark Mauro attended K9 Patrol School at the Onondaga County Sheriff's Department where they both learned to work together as a team in tracking, area and building searching and criminal apprehension.Both Officer Mauro and Patriot hold dual-certification in patrol work and narcotic detection. Officer Mauro and Patriot currently work C-line (afternoon) shift.
Both teams participate in at least 24 hours of specialized K-9 training a month to meet the New York State requirement for certification. These teams also take part in local, state and national level training seminars to sharpen their skills. Also as part of their duties, these teams participate in numerous public and private demonstrations to show why and how the canine is deployed.