By Josh Davis, Associate Editor
(Dec. 6, 2018) Dock, a one-year-old golden retriever that just began working with the Berlin Police Department and Worcester County Bureau of Investigations, is bringing new meaning to “Officer Friendly.”
The outgoing pup is full of energy and loves to be around people – just ask first before you pet him.
Dock came from Turbo Retrievers, near Tampa, Florida, and was trained locally in firearms detection and tracking.
His handler is Dfc. Jessica Collins, who graduated from the police academy at Wor-Wic Community College in 2007 and spent just under five years with the Ocean Pines Police Department before transferring to Berlin in 2012. She is currently assigned to the Worcester County Bureau of Investigations, a joint task force that includes state and county police, as well as the Berlin and Pocomoke police departments.
“We handle criminal investigations throughout Worcester County,” Collins said, including homicide, burglary and theft investigations.
“Frequently, we go out on cases where we’re looking for guns – burglaries or armed robberies where they might have tossed a gun or anything along those lines,” she said. “The last time we got a tip about where a gun was tossed, we had to call the ATF for a firearms dog to see if they could help us out.”
On some occasions, that service wasn’t available to local police.
“While it’s not necessarily something we use all the time, it was just something that struck an interest,” Collins said. “I thought maybe we could get a firearms dog and it would be a resource for the Eastern Shore – something that wouldn’t have to come from across the bridge.”
She said Turbo Retrievers breeds various types of hunting dogs that all have “a high drive for finding things.”
“He started his training, just basic obedience stuff [in Florida], and we linked up with Delmarva K9 in Wicomico County and started him off in tracking,” Collins said.
One of Dock’s specialties is article tracking, meaning he can pick up a faint human scent on anything from clothing to car keys.
“Anything that can hold human scent, he can find if we give him a command and send him out,” Collins said.
He is also trained to detect firearms by sniffing out various types of residues, powders and gun oil. Dock can even detect spent shell casings.
“The bomb detection dogs, they also do the same scents, but just in a larger quantity. He’s reduced down to minute amounts of it,” Collins said. “He can find loaded mags and the actual casings” at crime scenes both indoors and outdoors in waters and wetlands.
“He’s had good success so far in tracking,” she continued. “He’s a ball of fire, so out of the gate he is pretty fast in his tracking, but he’s also a good tracking dog and a very sweet dog.”
Dock is “the friendliest police dog you’ll ever meet,” Collins said. And when theirs shifts are over, he becomes a family pet.
“When he’s home, he hangs out with my daughters and plays with them,” she said. “We take him out in the field, because technically he comes from a hunting family, and we play little games with him to keep his mind sharp. He’s got a lot of energy to burn.”
Berlin Police have two other K9s on the force, a German shepherd and a Malinois that specialize in drug detection. This is Collins’ first experience with a police dog.
“I don’t think I’d want a different one, because he’s just so loving,” she said. “He’s great with everybody.”
On Thursday night, Collins and Dock will be walking around Main Street during the annual Berlin Christmas parade.
“We’ll be walking around and visiting everybody,” Collins said. “Hopefully, we’ll get him out at more events and walking around so people can say hi to him. He loves people.
“Always ask first [before greeting him], but he’s definitely not going to bite anybody. He’s a very friendly dog. He likes to give hugs. He’ll put his paws around you and he just likes to get attention.”