MAYS LANDING - During the last several months, we've taken you inside the Atlantic County K-9 Academy, as the first class goes through their new facility.
This time we take you to a different location, for a different kind of training that instructors say is vital, given our proximity to so much water.
It's a simulated high-speed police chase, with a twistthe dog has to apprehend the suspect, who's run into the water. Almost all the areas around here have water, all the communities, explained head trainer, Joe Rodriguez, so you just want to get used to the water.
And one-by-one, team-by-team, they did just that. You have to train the dogs to go into the water, you have to train the handlers to go into the water, said John Devlin, an officer with the Atlantic City Police Department going through the program, so it's something new for both of us.
And instructors say for these drills, speed is of the essence. When his door swings open, your door should swing open. Just reach back with your hand and left pop it, and start running, explained Rodriguez to the group of officers, Don't pop it and turn your back and wait for 'em, just pop it and go! The dogs gonna go with you, trust me...do it again.
And while the dogs are strictly business, you can tell the handlers are having fun with this exercise and each other, which instructors let slide-as long as the dog's aren't in danger.
Graduation is just a few weeks away, and while teams admit they are looking forward to completing the program, it's clear, especially during exercises like these, that they enjoy what they're doing there. Even though it's a lot of hard training, it's a lot of fun, too, said Devlin, we're ready, but we're gonna definitely miss this place.
Those going through the John Sonny Burke K-9 Academy will graduate May 11th, after completing 16 weeks of training.