Meet the newest member of the Newton Police Department—Officer Leo.
Leo is a nine-week-old golden retriever that will serve as a community resource dog, as recommended by the Newton Reform Task Force.
“This dog will not be trained as an attack dog nor be trained to sniff for drugs,” Mayor Ruthanne Fuller said in a community update on Sept. 17. “Instead, he will be trained to provide comfort in difficult situations, assist in finding people (not crime suspects) who are lost or missing, and be out in the community with his partner meeting people and making friends.”
Community Outreach Officer Justin Lau will train Leo over the next 18 months to support the Newton Police Department’s (NPD) community policing policy, Fuller said. With a community resource dog, the department hopes to uphold its mission of community policing by positively engaging with the community and enhancing problem-solving techniques, the department wrote in a statement.
“CRD Officer Leo will become a great asset for our community engagement efforts, assist with traumatic events, relieve sensitive situations, help children and social-emotional aspects, support officer health & wellness and even provide a search function for people prone to wandering,” the department wrote in a Facebook post.
Leo’s training will include the Puppy Aptitude Test, Puppy STAR for Dog and Handler, Canine Good Citizen, Public Access Testing, and search and rescue certification, according to Fuller.
Leo will also be trained to provide comfort during stressful situations by instinctively lying down with people.
“He’ll also calm the vulnerable and provide assistance with social and emotional health with children,” Fuller wrote. “Within NPD, the community resource dog will also assist and support officer health and wellness.”
The community helped to select the dog’s new name by submitting name suggestions via email to the NPD.
He has a name…say hello to Leo! Thanking everyone for their submissions and suggestions on naming our Community Resource Dog. If you see Leo in your neighborhood stop by and say hello💙 pic.twitter.com/KNd1Jvp9pI
— Newton Police Dept. (@newtonpolice) September 28, 2021
The department received over 700 name suggestions, according to the NPD’s Facebook post.
Fuller, along with Newton Police Chief John Carmichael, Lau, and Newton Police Reform Task Force member Alison Tarmy, picked up Leo from Golden Opportunities for Independence on the morning of Sept. 17, Fuller said.
The Task Force recommended this training location because it is an organization that specializes in the training of service dogs, including those for the Wellesley and Brookline Police Departments, according to Fuller.
Wellesley welcomed its Community Resource Dog Winnie to the force in August 2020. The Community Resource Dog Bear joined the Brookline Police Department in March 2019. Both dogs were trained through Golden Opportunities for Independence.
Fuller formed the Newton Police Reform Task Force in July 2020 to conduct an assessment of the NPD and advise policies and procedures for the department. To keep up with Leo, follow him on Instagram @Officer_Leo_CRD, email him at [email protected], or greet him around town accompanied by Lau.
Featured Image Courtesy of Ellen Ishkanian