Police dog getting used to job

Mirror photo by Greg Bock / Tyrone Police Officer Traci Winters spends some time with K-9 Getro, the latest addition to the borough’s police department.

After more than a year of planning and through tens of thousands of dollars raised by the community, Tyrone has a new K-9 officer on the streets.

Getro, a 14-month-old German shepherd, started working a week ago with handler Officer Traci Winters, and the 70-pound officer was officially “sworn in” Wednesday evening during the Tyrone Police Department’s annual Night Out Against Crime at the community swimming pool.

Tyrone Police Chief John Romeo said more than 350 people turned out Wednesday for the annual event, and although Getro did well with the crowd, it is always a challenge when it comes to kids and a working dog such as Getro. Still, while not the kind of dog you can run up to and pet, Romeo said it was important that the department get a dog that wasn’t too aggressive, either.

“We wanted a K-9 that is more social,” Romeo said, adding that Getro is a dual trained drug detection and tracking dog that can assist in the apprehension of suspects. He’s also a passive alert dog, meaning when Getro sniffs out drugs, he’ll either sit or if it’s somewhere lower to the ground, the dog will lay down.

Getro is trained to find heroin, cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine, Winters pointed out.

Winters, who has worked for the department since 2012 and was hired full time in March, said the night of Aug. 3 was Getro’s first night out on patrol. She said not only was Getro getting used to large crowds of people Wednesday — something the dogs do not experience during training — his first day on the job was different than what he’s known so far.

“Saturday night was a transition for him, too, because the training is all during the day,” said Winters, who completed six weeks of on-site training with the dog on Aug. 2. She said it will likely take a full year for Getro to fully get used to her and the job, and along with yearly training certification, the pair will train twice each month.

Tyrone Mayor Bill Latchford said Winters and Getro are a good, compatible team and he’s looking forward to the pair spending time in the community. Latchford said he hopes that the K-9 unit will also provide a deterrent when it comes to drugs if people see Winters and Getro out and about.

“It’s important to have a dog that’s approachable, so people know it’s not just a dog that is going to bite your arm off,” Latchford said.

“Most people have never seen police dogs,” Romeo said. “They have a bad reputation.”

Romeo said they will be taking the dog around the community and said more than 300 donors kicked in about $31,000 in less than six months to make Getro’s addition to the department a reality.

The department is also providing plaques to recognize and thank businesses that gave donations to fund Getro. Initially, the goal was to raise $25,000, and the community surpassed that by $6,000, which will help with equipment and training costs.

Winters pointed out that Getro is another tool for law enforcement, albeit a unique one.

“He’s the only tool you can recall once you use it,” Winters added. “He’s the only tool you can use around a corner.”

Mirror Staff Writer Greg Bock is at 946-7458.