June 25, 2021
Ferry Facts: K-9 Teams
Newest Class of DRBA K-9 Officers GraduatesThis year four new K-9 officers have graduated or are about to graduate from the Atlantic County Police K-9 Training Academy. Earlier this year, Corporals Dan Gavlick and Robert Inversa (shown above) became our newest K-9 officers. By the end of this month, two additional officers are expected to join their ranks -- Corporal Jonathan Costa and Patrol Officer First Class (PFC)Timothy Hader.
The K-9s are always popular at the Ferry, but also play a role in DRBA-wide policing. With the upcoming graduation, we took the opportunity to spend some time with Colonel Rick Arroyo to ask about our K-9 program and training. Special thanks to the Colonel for giving us time. See his insights and answers below.
How long have we had a K-9 program?
A: For over 30 years!
What's changed in our K-9 program?
A: In 2020, we started a partnership with the Atlantic County Academy. This gives us some advantages over prior training programs, not the least of which is the ability to call local K-9 teams from around the county for backup. You may have seen several K-9 officers from throughout the area at the Cape May campus in early June. That was to familiarize their K-9 teams with our operations in case we ever needed to rely on them for support or reinforcement. Our alliance effectively gives us access to more resources.
Are K-9s only used at the Ferry?
A: No. Our dogs also do work at the Bridge and the Airports. At the Airports, they assist TSA (Transporation Security Administration) particularly in Wilmington (ILG). At the Bridge, a vehicle to be searched is first pulled over by Highway Patrol and then the K-9 is called for service. Our dogs are trained in explosives and tracking and if there's a need for either of those services, a K-9 unit is called to the scene. In addition, the dogs do area checks before every event regardless of location including recent War Memorial ceremonies at Veterans Memorial Park by the Bridge.
Above: (l-r) Corporal Inversa with Izzy and Corporal Gavlick with Bini.
What's the advantage of K-9s in a police force?
A: The dogs help us to be efficient. Some investigations that might take hours by a human can be done in minutes by a trained K-9. As proud as I am of our force, no human being can replace what dogs do in sniffing out explosives.
In addition, they are popular with the public. Children love seeing them. They do an important job and are great PR for inspiring a new generation to consider work in law enforcement.
What would you like the rest of the DRBA to know about our K-9 unit?
A: We hope to have five trained officers by year-end. It takes a special individual to do canine training. People in K-9 forces are dedicated people who put in three months of extra, difficult, specialized training. The dogs become an extension of our services and ability to secure public safety at all our facilities, and when they retire they stay part of our family -- both as veterans of our force and as family members of their assigned human partner. We're lucky to have them.