Webster Police K-9 Unit

K-9 Officer: Aaron Suss

Because dogs have such a superior sense of smell, a K9’s primary role in Law Enforcement is as a searching tool.  When officers need help locating a suspect, narcotics, evidence, firearms, or even explosives they will use a K9.  The media likes to portray Police K9’s as “attack dogs”, but in reality, an apprehension where a K9 bites a suspect occurs less often than people realize.

Currently the WPD K9 Unit consists of one handler (Officer Aaron Suss) who works two canines (Red and Radar).  K9 “Red” is an American bred German Shepherd currently used as a single purpose Narcotic Detection dog.  K9 “Radar” is trained as a single purpose patrol dog.   Officer Suss takes both dogs to work in a Ford Expedition which has a special split kennel that affords both of them enough comfortable space.

Pictured above from left to right are K9’s Radar and Red.

A brief history of past WPD K9’s

The Webster Police Department’s first K9 was a German Shepherd named K9 Dfienbaker (Dee) and was retired in 2000.  After a long break, the K9 program was reinstated under Chief Bent in 2007.

In mid July a Dutch Shepherd named “Diesel”, arrived and became the second police dog in department history.  Both Officer Suss and K9 Diesel certified with the United States Police Canine Association as a police tracking dog team. In just a few months, Diesel reminded the WPD how useful a K9 can be to its members.

Officer Suss and K9 Diesel

On 10-26-2007 Diesel successfully tracked and located a key piece of evidence which led to the arrests of three individuals for multiple home burglaries. Thousands of dollars of property was also recovered and returned to the victims.

On 12-27-2007 Diesel assisted the neighboring Town of Oxford in tracking an intoxicated teenager who fled his residence after a domestic dispute.  The teen passed out in the woods wearing only a t-shirt and no shoes.  He subsequently lost consciousness amid the snow in single digit temperature and was in the beginning stages of hypothermia.  Diesel located the teen and was later credited with saving his life.

01-05-2008 Diesel was replaced by K9 Red.  Unfortunately Diesel did not pass prescreening suitability tests for the Boston K9 Academy.  More specifically Diesel had a fear of slippery and shiny floors which it couldn’t be guaranteed he would overcome.  Faced with a tough decision, especially since Diesel had good success, the decision was made to search for another K9.

WPD’s Current K9’s

K9 Red is an American bred German Shepherd.  His breeder has been training GSD’s for years in Search and Rescue (SAR) in Maine.  Her SAR work with K9 Red’s father has been shown on the cable show Animal Planet.  Red’s father and mother were both SAR trained dogs.  Red’s grandfather was a working police dog in the southern United States.

K9 Red, WPD’s third K9

On 03-14-2008 after 10 weeks of training, Red and Officer Suss were both certified as a Narcotics detection team from the Worcester Police K9 academy.   Red is trained to detect the odors of Marijuana, Heroin, Cocaine, and Methamphetamine. Officer Suss and K9 Red have successfully certified with the United Stated Police Canine Association as a Narcotic Detector Dog team.  They do this on an annual basis.

K9 Red during Narcotics training at the Worcester K9 Academy

K9 Red searching for Narcotics standing on a piano at the Worcester K9 Academy

After working for about 6 months, both Officer Suss and Red went back to school and attended the Boston Police K9 Patrol Academy.  They graduated after 14 weeks and received a certification from the BPD as a Patrol K9 team.  They were trained in tracking, evidence recovery, handler protection, and obedience.

During Red’s career, he has assisted officers with different investigations in both narcotics and patrol.  K9 Red has been involved in multiple arrests where he’s either helped to locate narcotics or suspects while tracking.   Here are a few examples of some successful initial deployments.

1. On 03-18-2009 K9 Red assisted Webster Detectives with searching a package suspected of containing narcotics.  As a result Red located 2 pounds of marijuana which would have been shipped to a Webster address.

K9 Red with 2lbs Marijuana Find

2. On 03-16-2009 K9 “Red” assisted the Southern Worcester County Drug Task force with a narcotic search.  As a result he located one pound of marijuana in the top of a closet.  K9 “Red” also located $1200.00 all rolled up in a rubber band, along with drug “crib notes” which was hidden between mattress and box spring.  Three people were arrested.

3. On 06-01-2009 K9 “Red” was called into work by Webster Officers investigating an assault involving narcotics.  After one of the suspects did not consent for the officers to search the inside of his vehicle, K9 “Red” was called into action.  After doing an exterior “narcotic” sniff, “Red” gave a strong indication that there were narcotics present in the vehicle, giving officers all the probable cause they needed to search.  K9 “Red” did an interior search of the car and immediately indicated that there were narcotics inside the vehicle dashboard.  In that exact location, over an ounce of marijuana, all 24 small packets for distribution were found.  As a result of K9 “Red’s” search, two people were arrested and $1300.00 of suspected drug money was seized.

4. On 08-31-2009 Officer Suss and K9 Red were dispatched to Church Court for an active domestic assault and battery.  Prior to the officers arriving, the suspect fled the area on foot after he assaulted his disabled girlfriend by fracturing her wrist.  K9 Red located the suspect hiding in the woods.  He was arrested after he struggled with the officers at the scene.

5. On 01-28-2010 Webster Police were called to Eddy Street for a reported breaking and entering in progress.  After the officers arrived, K9 Red was utilized to search the residence.  Red located a suspect and alerted officers to his hiding place under a bed.  The suspect was also arrested with a struggle by the police.

6. On 05-22-2010 Officers were dispatched for a reported robbery by two individuals.  One suspect was arrested after a foot pursuit and struggle with the responding officers.  At 3am that night the suspect, a career criminal with over 100 charges on his criminal record complained of injuries and was taken to a local hospital.  After assaulting a doctor and a police officer, the suspect escaped on foot.  Wearing only a hospital gown and sneakers, the suspect ran through woods, crossing a highway, and into a residential neighborhood, where he ended up naked hiding behind houses.   K9 Red along with other K9’s from the Mass State Police tracked the suspect through the woods.  At approximately 6am a woman reported seeing a naked man hiding behind a house in the Myrtle Ave neighborhood.  K9 Red tracked from the area where he was spotted to the front of a house, which Officers learned belonged to the suspect’s relative. He was subsequently captured inside the basement. 

7. On 11-20-2010 K9 Red was utilized to assist the South Worcester County Task Force again in a neighboring Town.  As a result of his searching, K9 Red assisted officers in locating over 100 grams of crack cocaine.  One suspect was arrested.

Here are a few updated “finds” from this past year of 2011.   

1. On 02-21-2011 K9 Red assisted the Oxford Police Department.  Oxford Officers responded to a domestic disturbance on Old Webster Road.   The suspect came home heavily intoxicated and got into a verbal argument with his family.  Just prior to entering the house, he slipped on some ice and severely injured his face.  After making suicidal threats the suspect ran into the nearby woods.  The current conditions were extreme cold and the woods were blanketed with knee deep snow.  Oxford Officers searched the nearby trails for approximately 30 minutes before calling for a K9 Unit.   The trails in the woods were already frequently used by the man and his housedog in addition to the other contamination.  Using a bloody towel as a scent article, K9 Red tracked from the house and located the suspect passed out in the snow behind a tree in the deep woods.  The suspect fought with officers while being taken into custody.  Because of the suspect’s intoxicated condition and the extreme temperatures outside, K9 Red was credited with saving this person’s life. 

2. On 02-27-2011 K9 Red was requested by the Auburn Police Department to assist with a Narcotics Investigation.  After receiving and investigating information of a possible delivery of marijuana traveling to their town.  K9 Red was called for a narcotics search.  K9 Red located 11.5lbs of marijuana concealed inside a suitcase inside the vehicle’s trunk.

3. On 05-02-2011 K9 Red was requested to assist a Narcotics task force in sniffing a suspicious package for a Federal Investigator.  Because of K9 Red’s narcotic sniff, Officers were able to obtain a search warrant for the package.  4lbs 4 ounces of marijuana were located inside.

4. On 08-25-2011 K9 Red assisted Federal Postal Inspectors with a package search of a suspected shipment of marijuana to a Webster address.  K9 Red’s indication on the package gave officers the necessary probable cause for an anticipatory search warrant.  The package was delivered to the address by one of the Postal Inspectors and the search warrant was executed.  Over one pound of marijuana was inside the package after it was opened.  One person was arrested for Marijuana distribution and a “Grow Operation” was discovered inside the apartment.

5. On 08-25-2011 K9 Red assisted the South County Narcotics Task Force with another Narcotics Investigation that was initiated by Federal Postal Inspectors.  One suspect was arrested at the Webster Post Office when he was trying to pick up a package containing over one pound of marijuana.  During the investigation another search warrant was obtained for a Southbridge address for another involved suspect.  K9 Red conducted a narcotics search and located over a pound of marijuana inside the apartment.   As a result of this investigation and the above one, three persons were arrested and charged with narcotics distribution, two search warrants were obtained, and suspected drug money was seized from both locations. 

6. On 08-31-2011 K9 Red assisted Webster Detectives with a Narcotics Search Warrant on Lake Street after receiving information from Postal Inspectors about a suspicious package containing marijuana.  K9 Red located just under a pound of marijuana and Hashish in the apartment.  In addition to that other drugs such as Ketamine, LSD, Ecstasy, and Hallucinogenic Mushrooms were also discovered.  In total almost three pounds of marijuana, suspected drug money, and the above drugs were seized.

7. On 09-02-2011 K9 Red was called by the Sturbridge Police Department to help with a narcotics investigation.  A plainclothes police officer observed what appeared to be a drug transaction in a parking lot of business near the Mass Pike and I84.  After stopping the vehicle the officer requested a narcotic detecting dog.  K9 Red was called to assist.  After sniffing the vehicle, K9 Red indicated there were narcotics present inside the rear of the cab.  This showed officers where 10 grams of cocaine were located.  The man was arrested and charged with cocaine possession with the intent to distribute. 

8. On 11-07-2011 while on routine patrol in town, the K9 Unit stopped and arrested a man for various traffic offenses.  The man’s nervous behaviors, drug history, and other factors led Officers to utilize K9 Red to search his vehicle.  K9 Red located narcotics hidden inside the vehicle packaged for distribution.  The narcotics and over $2100.00 of suspected drug money were seized in addition to the suspect being charged. 

K9 Red during training

In 2009 Webster K9’s were deployed on 79 different occasions.  They are broken down into 27 Narcotic Searches, 23 Tracks, 21 Building and area searches, 2 School Narcotic Searches, 1 misc Patrol deployments, 5 public demonstrations.

In 2010 Webster K9’s were deployed 74 times.  This is broken down into 25 tracks, 18 Narcotic searches (vehicle), 4 narcotic searches (non-vehicle), 13 Building searches, 5 area searches, 4 school searches, and 8 public demonstrations.

In 2011 (through September) Webster K9’s were deployed for 23 tracks, 27 Building searches (Area and Narcotic), 20 MV Narcotic Searches,7 Community Demonstrations, 2 School Narcotic Searches and used to assist in 8 Search Warrants

Because of health related issues which have affected Red’s performance as a patrol K9 the department decided to utilize Red as a single purpose narcotic dog and to acquire another candidate as a patrol dog.  After a long search K9 Radar was selected.  K9 Radar was purchased and donated to the WPD at no cost to the taxpayers of Webster. 

Radar joined the WPD late Fall 2010.  K9 Radar was bred by the Barnstable County Sheriff’s Office breeding program.  The majority of his brothers and sisters are currently being trained as both patrol and detection K9’s in Massachusetts.  Radar’s mother is a working K9 for the BCSO and is father is a retired BCSO K9.

K9 Radar at 9 months old                     K9 Radar 2011

Once Radar and his littermates were a few months old, they were fostered by other experienced K9 Handlers.  They were socialized with other people and animals.  They received foundation training in obedience, tracking, and their basic protection work.  At his current age of 2.5 years Radar is a well socialized and confident K9 with a stable temperament. He has been exposed to different environments that would overwhelm the average dog.

K9 Radar with his littermates as puppies

Officer Suss and K9 Radar were paired as a K9 team in August of 2010.  After spending time bonding they started their training together for the next few months.  Because of a harsh winter and staffing shortages at the WPD their training was cut short until the spring.  Both Officer Suss and K9 Radar finished their formal patrol training at the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Office in 2011.  The PCSO’s K9 Director, Kenneth Ballanger, is a nationally recognized trainer of police K9’s. 

Since K9 Radar has been working with the men and women of the WPD he has made an impact. 

1. On 05-15-2011 The Police Department received a report of a suicidal male threatening to run into traffic on I395.  The caller initially encountered the distraught looking subject offering help.  The person told the caller he was headed to the highway to kill himself.   Officers flooded the area searching for the man but were unable to locate him.  K9 Radar tracked the man to a wooded area near the highway onramp.  He was taken into custody for a psychiatric evaluation.  His blood alcohol content was over three times the limit allowed to drive a vehicle. 

2. On 05-21-2011 The Police Department received a call for an armed Robbery on Poland Street.  The suspect, armed with a knife, robbed a male and a female.  During the course of the robbery the suspect also injured the male victim.  K9 Radar was utilized and tracked to the suspect’s residence.  Officers applied for and received a warrant for the suspect who is still wanted by the WPD.

3. On 07-05-2011 The Auburn Police Department received a call for a missing 12 year old girl.  The young girl was visiting relatives with her family.  After getting into an argument with her mother she fled barefoot into some woods on the Auburn/Worcester line.   Relatives and neighbors (with their own family dog) searched the woods for approximately two hours before they called the police, who in turn called for the Webster K9 Unit.  Using a scent article from the girl, K9 Radar tracked her into the nearby woods.  Because the track was over a couple of hours old, and the woods were already searched, there were a lot of doubts she was still there.  Broadcasts were sent to the surrounding towns and the City with her description.  K9 Radar was able to locate the girl within 15 minutes of arriving.  He tracked straight to her location where she was trying to hide in a tree stand.  (This was already searched by the neighbors.)  The young girl was returned to her mother safely.

4. On 11-01-2011 The Webster Police received a report of an armed robbery on Lake Street.  After interviewing possible suspects on Prospect Street, one suspect fled the area on foot after providing false information as to his identity.  Officers immediately set up a perimeter in the neighborhood for K9 Radar to search from the suspect’s last known location.  When searching a backyard Officer Suss, K9 Radar, and Detective Gordon Wentworth located the man hiding on a second floor porch.  After learning the suspect’s identity, Officers learned he was wanted from the State of Rhode Island for Robbery and Firearm’s charges. 

5. On 12-13-2011 The Webster Police received a call on Myrtle Ave for an intoxicated and out of control male.  The suspect’s mother reported him as being destructive and assaultive.  The man left the area on foot before officers arrived on scene.  K9 Radar tracked and located different articles of clothing that the intoxicated man left behind through the neighborhood.  Officers were able to discover property damage the suspect caused in the area.  While they were searching a homeowner discovered the suspect attempting to steal his vehicle.  Because they were only a short distance away, K9 Radar and Officer Suss located the suspect fighting with the homeowner.  The suspect surrendered and Officers were able to take him into custody without a fight. 

Two of their Webster K9 Unit deployments were mentioned in the United States Police Canine Association quarterly publication “The Canine Courier” as “Quarterly Finds”.  The department is pleased to see the K9 Unit’s efforts recognized by their peers. 

Basic mission of the K9 Unit

The K9 Unit is a part of the WPD Patrol Division.  The K9 Unit’s primary mission is to perform basic police related duties, such as answering calls for service, while supplementing the Patrol and Detective Divisions with K9 applications.   K9 Red and Radar’s primary use as “searching tools” make WPD Officers more effective in solving crimes and keeping the Town’s residents and its Officers safe. 

The K9 Unit’s secondary mission is community policing oriented.  Officer Suss and the department K9’s educate the public about the police department’s mission, the K9’s specific function within the department, and general safety.  This is done through lectures and demonstrations both in and out of the community.

Accord Adult Health Care Center 2011 (K9 Red)

Over the past few years they have done K9 Demonstrations for different organizations such as  area schools, elder groups, churches, the Boys and Girls Scouts, and many other civic groups to name a few.  Every year they do a demonstration for National Night Out and for the Police Department’s annual Junior Police Academy.

The police department encourages requests from different community organizations for demonstrations and tries their best to fill them.  Any requests can be forwarded to the Office of the Chief of Police.  All in-town organizations will be given priority over non-Webster events.

Pictured above Officers Suss, Perry, and K9 Red during a K9 Demo at the Town Hall.

Webster Dudley Boy’s Club 2011 Worcester DA’s Summer Basketball Camp.

Many different organizations have assisted with the startup and maintenance of the K9 Unit.  During the difficult financial times K9 Units are usually cut first from a police department’s budget.  Our initial startup costs were offset by both private and business donations.  Each donor (no matter how small) to our program is recorded and updated with an annual newsletter on the K9 Unit’s progress and accomplishments from the previous year. 

Even though every donor can’t be mentioned, we would like to point out a few who have stood by us since the beginning.  They are Paige Chiropractic, Webster EMS, Ceppetelli Builders, JV Mechanical, and The Webster Animal Hospital.  Their initial donations helped the department get the K9 Unit up and running.  

Paige Chiropractic and JV Mechanical both helped defray some of our initial costs.  JV Mechanical’s initial donation and Paige Chiropractic’s “Back the Badge” fundraiser both provided several thousand dollars to help us obtain needed equipment.  Over the past few years K9 Red has appeared at many of Paige Chiropractic’s different health fairs where he’s been given the chance to meet members of the community. 

The Police Department would also like to thank Webster EMS and their Chief, Gary Milliard for all of their support to our program.  In addition to donating to our program, certain Webster EMS Paramedics have attended specialized K9 trauma training.  In the unfortunate event a Webster K9 is seriously injured on duty Webster EMS has the training and skills to potentially save its life. 

Ceppetelli Builders contributed a ballistic vest for our patrol K9.  This piece of equipment can also potentially help save a K9’s life in the unfortunate event of a shooting.

Lastly we would like to mention a special young girl from the Town of Dudley.  In the summer of 2010 9 year old Peyton Suprenant contacted Officer Suss by letter asking for permission to try to raise funds.  Her mission was to have a summer project which would benefit animals in some way.  After researching with her mother, Peyton contacted the Webster Police asking to donate her services to help K9 Red. 

After a summer of hard work Young Peyton managed to raise over a couple of hundred dollars for our K9 fund.  Her hard work was recognized by the Webster Board of Selectmen and her story was featured in the Worcester Telegram and Gazette.

Young Peyton surprised us again this past summer of 2011.  She presented the K9 Unit with another donation of over $200.00 from her fund raising efforts. 

Officer Suss, K9 Red, Peyton Suprenant, and Chief Timothy Bent.

Webster Police Department
357 Main St., Webster, MA 01570       Phone: (508) 943-1212       Fax: (508) 949-3898      Crime Tips: (508) 949-3874
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