Dogs of duty earning their keep
CANINE constables are making a big impact in crime in regional centres like Coffs Harbour.
Honing their skills at a training day in Nambucca Heads last week, the Regional Dog Unit has proven a hit on the beat since its inception late last year.
German shepherd, general purpose dogs and labrador drug, explosives and firearm detection dogs have been posted at Coffs Harbour, Lismore, Armidale and Dubbo.
Police dog handlers report the canine constables are fairing well in their roles.
The Coffs Coast's police dog Houso, the German Shepherd, has been involved in a host of drug operations and crowd control situations, police said.
His particular skill is dispersing large troublesome crowds and assisting officers collar fleeing suspects prior to arrest.
The NSW Police Force has a fine tradition of dogs in policing, spanning back to 1932 when the squad was formed under Constable Scotty Denholm.
NSW Police Minister Michael Gallacher told State Parliament last month the decentralisation of the Police Dog Unit was bringing crime fighting benefits to country centres.
"Throughout 2012 and 2013 an additional officer will be trained for each location, which means more police with specialist skills are going into country areas," Mr Gallacher said.
"All police dog handlers have completed a minimum of 16 weeks training in their respective disciplines and have been deployed in the Sydney metropolitan area prior to their transfer to regional locations.
"The Dog Unit Regionalisation Program will provide the opportunity for rural police to access these specialised services in a timely manner, and this will benefit regional New South Wales in reducing crime, apprehending offenders and searching for missing persons," he said.