The newest member of Gloucester’s police force has reported for duty.
His name is Trident, and he is a German shepherd assigned to Patrolman Jerome Ciolino.
Trident is part of the Police Department’s second K9 unit, and has come aboard about seven months after the department’s first dog, Mako, joined the force.
The department’s two patrol dogs can search for missing people, weapons, and help break up a potentially violent situation. While that’s helpful, said Patrolman Chris Genovese, who started the Department’s K9 program, the real benefit will come when the dogs are fully trained for drug searches. He and Mako will head to Boston for six weeks of drug dog training next month.
“It’s a huge asset to the city,” Genovese said. “We’re seeing a lot of drugs come in.”
The dogs can find things detectives can’t. If police stop a car and suspect the driver used drugs or is carrying them, they can have the dog walk around the car. If the animal smells drugs inside, Genovese said that’s enough probable cause to search the vehicle.
The two dogs are high-strung, type A personalities and aren’t content if they aren’t working. They also don’t get along too well with other dogs, Ciolino said. But the dogs — especially Trident — are enthusiastic about their work, based on their responses to the officers’ commands.
Genovese, who has served six years in Gloucester’s Police Department, has two bird dogs, and seeing them track in the woods gave him an idea of what a police dog could do for Gloucester, he said.
“I’ve always had an interest in working dogs,” Genovese said.
Last October, Genovese handed police Chief Mike Lane a five-page report on why the department should have its own K9 unit, rather than relying on the units of the Essex County Sheriff’s Department or the Massachusetts State Police.
“He sold me on it,” said Lane. “We think there is a need and the work will be there (for the K9 units).
“We had times over the years where we called for a dog,” Lane added, “the delayed response works against you.”
Counting a year’s worth of dog food and two-day a month refresher courses, a K9 unit costs about $12,725. The dog itself costs $6,200, Lane said, with most of that coming out of the city’s share of drug arrest forfeiture money. The training for the officers, Lane said, will come out of the department’s budget.
The two K-9 units, with Genovese working mornings and Ciolino working nights, represent a good use of the department’s forfeiture money, Lane said. The department has an officer assigned to the Drug Enforcement Agency’s task force; whatever it brings in in drug forfeitures, Gloucester gets a cut.
Genovese started training with Mako, a German shepherd, that October and, after finishing a 14-week course, brought him back to the department as its first K9 unit. Since then the department’s made use of Mako in several searches.
When police responded to a major rollover on the Route 128 Extension in May, for example, they found the vehicle destroyed with two passengers nearby.
Those two were taken to Beverly Hospital, but the driver, Joshua LeBlanc, 21, of 9 Blueberry Lane, had fled, the officers said. Genovese and Mako searched Webster and Sadler streets before Mako caught LeBlanc’s scent on Friend Street. The officers found him behind a garage, in a lot of pain; he was also taken to Beverly Hospital.
Lane picked Jerome Ciolino as the department’s next K9 officer. He started his training with Trident in March; the name, from the three-pronged spear of King Neptune, fits a Gloucester patrol dog, he said.
Ciolino said he wanted to do K-9 work because of what it could do for the department, both in finding people and in finding drugs. Having the dogs will help officers find people who get lost, or run off, into the woods — and two K-9 units can cover Gloucester’s sprawling, woody area better than one, the officers said.
Just by barking from a cruiser, Ciolino said, the dogs can break up fights and keep incidents from getting violent. And if an incident does get ugly, Ciolino said, he can press a switch on his belt which will throw open his cruiser door and Trident will come running.
“The K9 is a huge deterrent,” he said.
Trident lives with Ciolino, as Mako does with Genovese. They’re kept in special kennels at their homes.
“When I open the cruiser and kennel doors he runs right in, it doesn’t matter if there’s a party going on, he wants to work.” Ciolino said. “That’s all he cares about.”
Steven Fletcher can be reached at 978-283-8000 x3455, or firstname.lastname@example.org.