He may look cuddly, but this JPD officer gets the job done. Meet Buddy.
Born in Slovakia, Buddy is a 4-year-old German Shepherd. He went through a rigorous selection process and several months of training before coming to Juneau three years ago to be sworn in as K9 Officer Buddy. Before him, it had been about 20 years since Juneau Police Department’s canine program was active.
Nationally, the use of K9s has increased drug seizure and safety for officers. Buddy is a single purpose dog; he sniffs for illegal narcotics. He works with JPD Officer Mike Wise, who’s his handler. The two of them spend a lot of time together, continually training and developing their skills as partners.
Officers Wise and Buddy frequently travel within the state and down south for certifications and in-service trainings. When the officers are not away from Juneau, ongoing training occurs every single day as well as daily life maintenance for both officers. They live together to maintain their connection and to continually work on improving their knowledge, skills, and abilities to locate and seize illegal drugs coming into Juneau.
In the three years that Officers Wise and Buddy have been partnering, they have seized more than 47 pounds of heroin, 14 pounds of methamphetamine, more than 2000 prescription pills, and other substances and paraphernalia.
The two officers work closely with the JPD Drug Enforcement Unit, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service, and other Southeast Alaska partners. These interactions add to the relationships that JPD builds with other agencies and communities.
The relationships that Wise and Buddy are able to foster within the community are also very positive. Many in the community enjoy being around Buddy, but the public should recognize that he is a professional K9, serious and dedicated to his job, which means they should not just walk up to him without first checking with Officer Wise. Officer Buddy is not the cuddly “pet” some people wish him to be as he is always focused on the work he does and the relationship he builds with Officer Wise.
In general, there is a lot of work that goes into the use and management of a K9 within any police department. But the benefits that JPD receives from the work produced by Officers Wise and Buddy in drug seizure, as well as the many positive community interactions, outweigh the costs. There is also potential to expand the canine program to include dual use animals, dogs that both sniff for illegal narcotics and serve as patrol dogs.
Here’s one more interesting factoid about Buddy: He turns five on December 28.