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June 26, 2013

K-9s make unique police partners

K-9 partners are a significant asset for police

When there’s a 911 call in Salem, there’s a good chance police Officer Rob Nelson and his partner will respond. The pair catch runaway suspects and track down missing children.

But when they go on patrol, Nelson is always behind the wheel, his partner in the back.

Nelson patrols with Trigger, a 4-year-old German shepherd. Trigger is one of two police K-9s on the Salem police force.

“There’s quite a bit that we go after,” Nelson said. “I feel our job is a little bit more exciting because we don’t go to calls like shoplifting or a prisoner transport.”

Instead, the pair go after the big crimes.

“Usually, the dog comes out of the car when there’s a felony,” he said.

Salem isn’t the only local town to use police dogs. In Londonderry, they have used dogs for more than two decades.

“It’s been an outstanding asset,” Londonderry police Chief Bill Hart said. “At least a couple times a week, we put the dog to use.”

The town has gone through several dogs over the years, but currently has Mingo, a Belgian Malinois.

“Having it makes a quantifiable difference in two situations in particular,” he said. “When folks go missing and when we have a suspect who has eluded our grasp.”

But it’s not just catching crooks for the canines. Each dog has to complete regular, extensive training to stay on the squad.

“Our dog is required to do two eight-hour sessions per month,” Plaistow Deputy police Chief Kathleen Jones said.

Jones said they send their German shepherd, Kraken, and his partner to the New Hampshire State Police Academy for the mandatory training. Those sessions are run by N.H. State Police Sgt. Mark Hall.

"We train any department who chooses to come with us, free of charge," Hall said.

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