Cape May County graduated 6 police officers and their K-9 companions from the nation's first ever, Police Bloodhound Academy. The bloodhounds were trained over the course of 12 weeks and now they're ready to chase down crime.
When a burglar flees the scene of a crime, or when a child is missing, police officers in South Jersey turn to their trusted bloodhound units to help find those missing people - and on Wednesday afternoon, 6 officers and their proud pups graduated from the first ever Police Bloodhound Academy in Cape May County.
Russell Norcross, an Officer with the Cape May County Sheriff's Department, said, "Over the last 12 weeks, we ran approximately 400 trails and when we added up all the miles that we've run it comes to around 200 miles." The Police Bloodhound Academy allows the dogs to be fully trained and ready to start sniffing and solving crimes immediately after graduation.
Sheriff with the Cape May County Sheriff's Office, Gary Schaffer, explained, "This is the first one where you have 11 weeks of training - so they are getting a dog fully trained instead of having to need additional training."
Officers say the dogs aren't trained like traditional K-9 units and that they are rewarded with food to end their hunt.
Cape May County added 2 bloodhounds to their K-9 unit, and another 3 dogs will go to Essex, Salem, and Atlantic county police K-9 units.
One of the 6 dogs that graduated from the Police Bloodhound Academy came all the way from Murfreesboro Tennessee. K-9 officer, Angela Alexander, said, "Tennessee does not have a bloodhound academy and actually there's not one anywhere that we know of that has one."
Freeholder and Vice Director of Cape May County, Leonard C. Desiderio, told NBC40, "To have the first one ever in New Jersey and to have it here in Cape May County is very important and we're proud."
Officer's say the bloodhounds will usually be able to help them solve crimes until the dog is 9 or 10 years old, making this training an extremely worthwhile 12 weeks. Alexander added, "It was so awesome, I learned so much in my 12 weeks. My dog is doing great, you know, it's just learning every day."
The officer's and their dogs will head to New York next week, their official 12th week, for 'The National Police Bloodhound Association' seminar and will be evaluated for national certification.