A Feature Article from the Spring 1996 issue of

2 Others Wear Brand New Shields Too

Bullet shows off his brand new shield.

The 612 Probationary Coorection Officers who received shields in December and April now work on Rikers where their post-Academy training continues. Two other recenting training graduates also can been seen patrolling the Island and proudly displaying their shields . . . miniature ones on chains around their necks.They are Lex and Bullet, the Correction canine Unit's newest members.

Capt. Ladalia and Lex.

Just as training of the 612 new COs continues, so does the learning process for the two 2-year-old Hungarian-bred German Shepherds. After they successfully completed intensive 16-week drilling with the NYPD’s K-9 Unit at Fort Totten, Queens, they began more training on Rikers. At Totten, their curriculum included article searches, apprehension, tracking, agility and handler protection. On Rikers the instruction subjects include narcotics detection, perimeter patrol and security escort.

Lex, a black beauty, is assigned to the K-9 unit's commanding officer, captain Kathy Ladalia, who has been with DOC 18 years. Bullet, a handsome brown-and-tan, is assigned to C.O. Kenny Forte, a 15-year-veteran. Each Shepherd is a constant companion of its assigned officer who takes it home after work to further the bonding process.

The Department began its K-9 Unit 14 years ago this April 12, 1982, with a Captain, two handlers and three dogs. Their initial assignment was narcotic detection, a task for which canines are well suited because of their superior olfactory abilities. With training, the animals can be used to detect Marijuana, Hashish, Cocaine, Crack and their derivatives.

Belle, DOC's ever-lovable Bloodhound.

In April, 1992, the unit began its inmate-trailing program in which Belle, the lovable Bloodhound has played a starring role, preventing at least two escapes and tracking the route in an attempted escape.

Last fall, the unit expanded its patrol program beyond perimeters to certain other facility areas, under specific circumstances and conditions. "The presence of a trained canine on a leash with its handler/officer has a tremendously calming effect on whomever they encounter as they patrol an area," Capt. Ladalia observed.

In addition to the captain and CO Forte, the Canine Unit currently includes three other handler/officers (COs Serena Richardson, Martin Leo, and A. Paulauskas) and nine dogs.

Recently, the unit mourned the passing of Del, a 9-year-old German Shepherd who was certified by U.S. Customs for narcotics detection in 1989 and worked many years with CO Forte.

In addition to Lex, Bullet, and belle, the current K-9 roster includes five narcotics detection dogs and one German Shepherd "pup" to be trained for patrol work when of age. Until "Wyatt" was chosen recently as his name (after the Western lawman), he was simply called Puppy. Some still call him that. When Puppy's font legs are positioned on a man's shoulders while standing face-to-face, he can look the man in the eye.

Some puppy!

CO Forte and Wyatt aka Puppy

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