Police K-9 units from the northeast region of New York State and several units from neighboring states took part in a three-day training session May 4-6 at Tech City in the town of Ulster, coordinated by the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office and Rochester-based Upstate K-9.
Officers from 23 departments and their K-9 partners were put through their paces in tracking, patrol, decoy, obedience and detection.
Each year the program brings trainers from Holland to work with local police. Sheriff’s Cpt. Vincent Altieri said the training officers are from the world renowned KNPV (Royal Dutch Police Dog) handlers group.
The Dutch dogs are not allowed to be petted by anyone but their handlers. Here, police dogs are often used in education and public relations events.
While American K-9 officers get 16 weeks of patrol training and another 12 weeks of detective training, Dutch officers and their dogs receive five to nine months of training.
“So these guys are the best of the best,” said Greg Wheteham, owner of Upstate K-9, which imports dogs from Holland for use in American police work.
“The training we are receiving these three days is so intensive and there is so much we can learn from the Dutch police,” said Saugerties K-9 officer Jeremy Rushkoski, who was there with his dog Mikey, along with Sgt. Michael Craft and dog Sara. “We’re learning a little bit of everything during these three days. And if the dog is having some issues in one of the areas, the Dutch police can work with the dog and change their behavior.”
“These three days are a great way for officers to see how a department that uses dogs exclusively for police work does the job,” Altieri said.
Helping out with the training were members of the Bruderhof Community, who fed the officers; Tech City, which donated the use of one of its vacant buildings; Marriott of Kingston; Johnson’s Signs and Tees; the New York State Police PBA; PepsiCo; and the Centerville Fire Department.