By Rebecca Anderson
The newest — and furriest —graduating class of the Nassau County Police Department is ready to protect and serve. After an intense nine-month training, four members of the Canine Unit were presented with NCPD shields at a ceremony on Oct. 18.
Police officials and local leaders, along with canine handlers, attended the Canine Unit graduation ceremony, held at the Harry Chapin Lakeside Theatre at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow last week. The new canine graduates are Axel, Blitz, Doyle and Seren.
“Today is a good day for the Police Department because we are expanding our force by four,” said Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder, of Wantagh. “These dogs live and go home with their handlers and their respective families, and then they come and put their lives on the line, just as our police officers do.”
According to Ryder, three of the four-legged graduates will be used as bomb-sniffing dogs to reduce the threat of terrorist attacks. One canine will be assigned to the narcotics unit to help combat Nassau’s war on drugs.
Former Hempstead Town Councilman Gary Hudes said he has provided the department with the shields for more than 20 years. Hudes, a native of levittown owns Gennaro Jewelers in Bellmore and has created the badges from scratch for as long as he can remember.
“I’ve been a jeweler for 40 years, and, when the canine unit got its first dogs, we realized that these four-legged members are a part of the police family, and even though we support the two-legged members all of the time, the four-legged members support the officers every single day,” he said. “They have names and shield numbers, and they deserve a shield of their own.”
After Hudes presented each canine handler and dog with a badge, a blessing by the department’s priest ended the ceremony.
“Every time a canine graduated from the academy, we always supplied them with a shield, and today is no different,” Hudes said. “We welcome the new four-legged members of the Police Department, and we hope they stay safe and keep their trainers and handlers safe.”
After the graduation, handlers demonstrated various police tactics with their canine partners.