K9 officers make an impression

Chester children riveted by officers' demonstration of police dog prowess

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  • When Sergeant Campbell physically confronted Deputy Volpe, Volpe's K9, Tok,responded by clamping down on Campbell's arm as part of a demonstration on how police dogs work. For more photos click on blue arrow to the right. (Photo by Frances Ruth Harris)

  • Kids had lots of questions for Deputy Daniel Volpe. (Photo by Frances Ruth Harris)

  • From left: Brian Knapp and Dayton Wong, Chester summer camp counselors; Anthony Danielewski, activities director; and Josh McElroy, camp director in an activities room at the high school (Photo by Frances Ruth Harris)

  • Supervisor Alex Jamieson and Lori Streichert, recreation coordinator (Photo by Frances Ruth Harris)

  • Josh McElroy and Lori Streichert, recreation coordinator for the Town of Chester (Photo by Frances Ruth Harris)

  • From left: Josh McElroy, Chester summer camp director; Lauren Bowman, assistant director; Khristen Ramos, health director; Brittany Bilodeau, arts and crafts director (Photo by Frances Ruth Harris)

By Frances Ruth Harris

— The youngsters are moving in organized groups, speaking softly. They walk with the staff to the field where two cross-trained K9 dogs, Scout and Tok, await the crowd.

Sergeant David Campbell and Deputy Daniel Volpe open the doors of the Orange County Sheriff's vehicles. Suddenly, two big furry creatures are the center of attention.

The children sit on the grass on the athletic field near Chester High School. Anticipation is high. The dogs have an imposing presence and move only on command. The dogs respond instantly when Sergeant Campbell and Deputy Volpe give directions.

Sergeant Campbell reviewed many of the instincts that make the dogs expert at tracking down drugs and people, and attacking when necessary. Their noses are sensitive beyond human comprehension. Their fine-tuned snouts make them masters at the art of discovery.

The demonstration instantly put everyone on high alert. The dogs were ready to protect.

As part of the demonstration, Sergeant Campbell physically confronted Deputy Volpe. Volpe's dog, Tok, responded by clamping down on Sergeant Campbell's arm. But Campbell was prepared. His arm was protected by a padded round sleeve, which he uses in training and during demonstrations like this one. Tok did not let go until commanded to do so. Apprehending a wrongdoer would be an easy task for this highly trained dog.

The officers answered all the kids' many questions. Sergeant Campbell said officers must be careful not to start running in the presence of a police dog. He explained that if a police dog hears a gunshot then sees a person running, the dog is trained to chase the runner.

Learning through play

This high-action day was just one part of the many activities offered by Chester's Park and Recreation's Summer Camp. Several summer camps offered are held offering learning opportunities and fun activities. The kids explore, play games, get exercise, and work on art projects.

Josh McElroy, the camp's director, and his team are directly involved with the children. McElroy said he is grateful to the Orange County K9 team and Sergeant Campbell and Deputy Volpe for bringing their demonstration to Chester.

Satin Fine Foods of Chester donated the fondant the kids used to decorate cupcakes, McElroy said. "We thank them for their much appreciated donations," he said.

Lori Streichert, recreation coordinator for the Town of Chester, and Alex Jamieson, Chester's town supervisor, attended the demonstration. The children could not stop enthusiastically chattering about the dogs and all they'd seen and heard.

"I love community," Streichert said. "Everyone participates."

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