Dot, a two-year-old black Lab, is Jacksonville State University Police Department’s (UPD) newest family member. Dot is an exceptionally smart dog, trained from birth to assist officers in locating firearms and explosives.
The process of obtaining Dot has been a sunshine story, according to JSU Director of Public Safety Shawn Giddy. “It all started when John Pearce, director of training and operations for Auburn University’s Canine Detection Training Center, notified us about a Department of Justice grant,” Giddy said. “Then the university administration gave us their full support.”
Once the grant was approved, the ball started rolling. Officer Ashley Roper volunteered as Dot’s trainer and handler. Together, they are going through a 10-week training camp at the Auburn K-9 training center. Roper says it has been a pleasure working with Dot.
The UPD has received assistance from many in the effort, for which Giddy is grateful. Chief Bill Partridge of the Oxford Police Department donated a “hotdog” system, which prevents Dot’s cage from becoming too hot during transport. The cage was installed into a Ford Crown Victoria supervisor unit by JSU’s maintenance department.
When Dot is not in Auburn training, she stays at Roper’s private residence in Jacksonville. Dot’s kennel, which was purchased by Roper, sits on top of a concrete platform built by Logan’s Construction and other private funds. “Logan’s Construction was very generous with the concrete and time spent on the project,” Giddy said.
Dot and Roper started their training on September 17 and are scheduled to finish by mid November. Together, they are making tremendous progress, according to Sgt. Brian Mann of the UPD.
“During a training session, one of the Auburn K-9’s hit on a locker in the Pete Mathews Coliseum,” Mann said. “It turned out to be a track and field starter pistol.” Dot will also be able to locate firearms when the training is complete.
This is not the first time a K-9 has found firearms at JSU. Last year, during an emergency exercise, an Auburn K-9 indicated a vehicle contained a firearm. The participants did not even know whether the car was part of the mock exercise, but soon learned that the dog had found an exercise instructor’s personal weapon.
The UPD will continue to work closely with the Auburn K-9 group after Dot’s graduation. Auburn K-9 will work with UPD to keep Dot’s training up to date.
“We would never be able to afford this on our department budget,” Giddy said. He expressed his sincere thanks for the support given as well as the expertise provided to the department.
For more information, contact UPD on 256-782-5050.