New police dog and handler welcomed as veteran retires

POLICE Scotland has introduced a new police dog and handler pairing to the North East as the division says farewell to a formidable four legged retiree.

New police dog Griff. Picture: Contributed
New police dog Griff. Picture: Contributed

PC Ted Stockley and police dog Griff are the North East’s newest members to the dog unit based in Aberdeen and have quickly established themselves as highly competent new kids on the block.

Police dog instructor Steve Warden said: “With a team of working police dogs you have to always be aware of and build in succession planning. Colin Hunter and his dogs Yogi and Dell retired last year and so we started the recruitment process for a new handler then.

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“Ted was successful in his application to become a handler and then completed his training at the Police Dog Training School in Glasgow. It’s a 12 week course which sees the handler matched with their dog and then they work together to complete the course, learning the crucial skills required to be a successful dog and handler such as obedience, agility, tracking, locating hidden persons, recovering property and criminal work.

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“As a puppy, Griff was trained by a dog handler based in the central belt and subsequently became available when he was almost 18 months old. Ted was paired with him at the course and they have trained and worked together ever since. Griff is a German Shepherd and will be Ted’s general purpose dog. They have started their police dog unit careers exceptionally well and will continue to develop professionally on a daily basis.”

PC Stockley added: “I’ve been a police officer for over six years, working on division and within CID on serious and organised crime cases. I love dogs and when the opportunity came up for a new handler I applied and was pleased to be accepted.

“I’ve really enjoyed my first few months on the street as a qualified handler with Griff. He’s a good natured general purpose dog and together we’ve had some good successes in that time, including finding vulnerable missing people and locating suspects involved in housebreakings and auto crime.

“I’m really enjoying working as a handler and developing my skills and guiding Griff to develop his. In the future I’ll eventually be paired up with a second, specialist dog such as a drugs dog, which will be good experience and work too. In the meantime I’m enjoying this time developing my work and relationship with Griff.”

Operational police dogs generally have a working life of around eight years and one well known member of the team has recently retired.

Police dog Bear retired from operational policing last month after completing over seven years of service.

PD Bear joined then Grampian Police in September 2008 when he was eight weeks old and went on to successfully complete his training to become a general purpose police dog and became operational at the age of one.

PD Bear was partnered with PC Rob Diver throughout his career and will spend his retirement as a family pet with PC Diver.

Inspector Paul Menzies, from the Operational Support Division, said: “Police dogs are an integral and valued part of Police Scotland and the Operational Support Division, dealing with violent people, recovering property and finding missing people. PD Bear and PC Diver have been a formidable partnership and successful operational team for over seven years and have many notable successes. PD Bear has been a unique and loved part of the team, with an exceptional sense of loyalty, determination and bravery.

“On a personal note, I am sad to see Bear go, but after many years of outstanding service and doing his bit to keep people safe, it is the right time for him to enjoy retirement. He is a real character of a dog and will be missed by us all.

“During PD Bear’s service, he has been responsible for saying the lives of numerous people, finding them in vulnerable conditions after being reported missing. He has also made high profile captures of people wanted for violent crimes and who posed a risk to the public. During some of these incidents, he has also been subject to kicks and punches. In recognition of their outstanding performance, both PD Bear and PC Diver have received commendations from senior officers.”

Inspector Menzies added: “I have no doubts there’ll be some members of society who are well acquainted with PD Bear and will welcome his retirement. However, I’d like to reassure the public that plans are well underway to make sure this important work continues with the addition of PD Bodie to the Operational Support Division earlier this year.”

Eight months since his introduction to Police Scotland, police pup Bodie is continuing to progress and develop in his training.

Bodie joined the police dog unit in April of this year as a young pup and is now showing real drive and promise

He is now almost ten months old and although not quite fully grown he continues to show the suitable mental and physical characteristics of a very promising general purpose police dog.

As part of Police Scotland’s puppy development programme, Bodie is assessed regularly on basic puppy obedience incorporating sit, down, stay, heel commands and vocal recall.

He is socialised at every opportunity to encourage developmental play and to monitor his temperament. He has also visited various locations to ensure he is environmentally astute including shopping centres, cinemas, busy transport hubs and other areas he may encounter once he becomes an operational police dog.

Inspector Menzies added: “PD Bodie has big paws to fill left by the retirement of Bear but he continues to make great progress with his basic puppy obedience training and will soon progress on to general police dog training. I have every confidence Bodie will be a valuable member of the team and we wish Bear well in his retirement.”