Tewksbury’s Police Department just added a new officer, though unlike most of the other ones this one walks on four legs (and barks).
Thanks to a grant from the Stanton Foundation, Tewksbury received the funding to add a second K-9 to its police ranks. Logan will now join K-9 Leo on the force after recently completing a 14-week basic training program at the Boston Police Academy along with his new handler, officer Stephen Quinn.
It was officer Quinn who came to new Police Chief Ryan Columbus with the idea to add a second K-9. The officer said he always wanted to do it, even though he admitted to having little experience with a working dog (though he did say he has experience with dogs in general).
Thanks to the Boston Canine Police Academy, officer Quinn and Logan matched (no swiping involved). Chief Columbus said the dog and his handler “need to be a good match,” adding that officer Quinn “fell in love with Logan.”
While the department has K-9 Leo already, the Stanton Foundation has a grant specifically for departments who seek to add a second K-9 unit. One grant helps departments with start up costs for a first-time K-9 and a second grant covers three years for any department looking to add another K-9.
(Frank Stanton, former president of CBS from 1946-1971, created the foundation following his retirement. It supports canine welfare including grants for shelter dogs, a professorship in canine health at Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine, plus establishments of K-9 units in local police departments and the creation of dog parks in Massachusetts. Currently, only Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New York, and Maine municipal police departments are eligible for K-9 grants.)
Logan trained in tracking missing persons and suspects and searching (both evidence and grid searches). Next, he’ll head back to the academy for narcotics training, according to both Chief Columbus and officer Quinn. Once he starts in the field, both he and officer Quinn will work traffic enforcement and other, typical police duties (unless called on to aid in any searches or drug-related activities).
The two officers, Logan and Quinn, could also receive calls from other towns for mutual aid (if those communities don’t have a K-9 unit and need the assistance Logan provides).
While the grant covers the cost for three years, Chief Columbus notes that most police dogs last five or so years so the town will have to cover some small costs at the back end of Logan’s police career. Once his career ends, Logan will retire to officer Quinn’s home to live.
No matter the cost, Chief Columbus said that if a police dog saves one life, “it’s worth it.”
“These dogs are highly trained and their handler is highly trained,” he added, calling the K-9 unit “one of the most unique positions in the world.”
The chief praised officer Quinn’s tenaciousness in going after the grant.
“He did this all on his own,” Chief Columbus acknowledged, saying how the officer wanted the position and did all the leg work required to secure the grant. “(Officer Quinn)’s worked very hard the last 14 weeks.”
Both Logan and Leo are German Shepherds, but officer Quinn admitted a lot of K-9s, or at least the majority of those at the police academy when he and Logan were in training, are Belgian Malinois, a medium-sized Belgian shepherd dog that at first glance resembles a German Shepherd. Malinois are considered friendly, alert and hard-working, which would seem to make for a good police dog.
Besides tracking and searching, Logan’s strength lies in obedience. Once he graduates from narcotics training he’ll become a dual purpose K-9 like Leo. Interestingly, because Logan was bred in Denmark, all his commands are in either German or Czech so officer Quinn learned German and Czech commands.
When it came to Logan’s initial training, officer Quinn called it extremely challenging with highs and lows. He added how it amounted to him just working with the dog, learning how to train the dog and basic obedience.
“Every dog starts at the same place to end at the same place,” the Tewksbury officer acknowledged.
For narcotics training, though, officer Quinn said he doesn’t know what to expect. It begins this Monday and lasts for six weeks. For anyone who follows the Tewksbury police log, it’s clear more help is needed getting drugs off the street.
Tewksbury Police make several drug arrests each week, mostly from those who live outside Tewksbury (Lowell, Lawrence and Billerica residents for the most part). Having a second narcotics dog will only make it easier for those who work narcotics.
“Drug numbers are up, overdoses are up and fatalities are up,” said the chief. “We have work to do with prevention and education.”
If anyone sees Logan out and about, it’s best to ask the permission of officer Quinn before approaching. Although officer Quinn described him as “super friendly,” he’s still a working dog and should be treated as such. The chief did say he hoped to do some demonstrations with Logan like the department did in the past with Leo (but that would most likely occur once the pandemic ends).
Logan doesn’t require much special treatment, other than a kennel in the back of officer Quinn’s police vehicle (meaning he can’t transport any suspects back to the station).
With two K-9 units on the job, Tewksbury is in good hands, err, paws.