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Bodie gets his teeth into new role 12 November 2008

PC Fabrizio and BodieTHE Isle of Man Constabulary’s latest recruit is already getting his teeth into his new role.

He may be a fluffy bundle of mischief at the moment, but 10-week-old Bodie will soon be playing an active part in a variety of police operations. The German Shepherd pup is currently settling into life in the Manx force under the supervision of handler PC Gianni Fabrizio. And he will be carefully nurtured over the coming months in readiness for being assessed and licensed as a member of the Police Dog Unit.

A comprehensive training programme will develop Bodie as a general purpose dog to assist in a wide range of situations such as missing person searches, property detection and the apprehension of offenders. But for now the playful youngster is focussed on having fun as he becomes accustomed to his new environment and the sights, sounds and smells associated with being a police dog.

Bodie has been the star attraction at Police headquarters since arriving as an eight-week-old puppy at the end of October. He comes from a long line of working dogs and was acquired by the IoM Constabulary’s Police Dog Unit from a specialist breeder in the UK.

His training will take place in the Island and is play-based to introduce techniques that will prove invaluable when he is put to work next year. Hunting out titbits of food or a ball will help to develop Bodie’s tracking skills, while chasing and biting a rag introduces elements of the controlled aggression required when tackling an offender.

PC Fabrizio said:

‘German Shepherds are good all-rounders when it comes to police work and although it’s early days Bodie is shaping up extremely well. He’s got a lovely temperament and is very inquisitive. He’s a strong character and he’s in to everything. At the moment he is just getting used to different people, noises, surfaces, weather and traffic. He’s already been in the van on a blue-light run to an incident at the airport and he wasn’t fazed at all.’

Sergeant Ian Kelly, head of the Police Dog Unit, added:

‘Training is always very positive and is geared towards developing a range of skills as general purpose dogs provide support in a number of scenarios. One moment they might be tracking a vulnerable person who is missing from home, the next they could be helping to apprehend an offender fleeing from the scene of a crime.’

German Shepherd puppy BodiePC Fabrizio takes Bodie home at the end of his shift in order to strengthen the bond between the dog and his handler. They will be inseparable in the months ahead as they prepare for an independent assessment in about a year’s time. If successful, Bodie will be officially licensed and will eventually replace one of the older general purpose dogs who is nearing the end of his working life. He will then take his place alongside the five handlers and nine other dogs that make up the Police Dogs Unit.

Sergeant Kelly, PC Fabrizio, PC Tony McNally, PC Ray Brondon and PC Rob Isaac work with German Shepherds, Belgian Shepherds, Springer Spaniels, Labradors and a Cocker Spaniel. The dogs perform an array of proactive and passive duties such as drug, firearms, explosives and cash detection, building searches, tracking and criminal work.

The Police Dog Unit provides all-Island support, working in conjunction with various sections of the Manx force in addition to Customs and Excise and other government agencies. And although he is undeniably cute and adorable at the moment, Bodie will quickly mature into a formidable member of the team.

Sergeant Kelly said:

‘Fully grown German Shepherds are physically imposing and their mere presence can help to restore order when incidents are threatening to boil over.’

Development continues throughout a dog’s working career as operational licenses must be renewed on an annual basis. Handlers and their dogs undergo two one-week refresher sessions and 10 days of continuation training in order to maintain high standards.

PC Fabrizio, Bodie and Sgt Ian KellyTraining incorporates the use of local properties and land which serve to provide realistic environments for searches and public order scenarios. Sergeant Kelly said:

‘We have been most fortunate in securing buildings such as the Castle Mona Hotel and Albert Road School to carry out our exercises. The support we receive from commissioners, government departments, farmers and hotel groups is phenomenal and we are extremely grateful for that co-operation.’

Bodie will be put through his paces at some of those training venues in the near future as he prepares for a life on the front line of the IoM Constabulary.

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