For the past five months, Officer Mauro Piroli has been working with Chase, the newest member of the North Branford Police Department, and on Sept. 12, Piroli and Chase visited the . Right now, is patrol-trained, which involves tracking, trailing, officer protection and building searches.
Piroli and Chase train 1 ½ to 2 hours every day and soon that training will increase as the pair will undergo narcotics training with the Manchester Police Department beginning this fall. That training will take eight to nine weeks, eight hours a day, five days a week.
“They fooled me into thinking it’s eight hours a day, but it’s more like 10 or 11,” Piroli laughed, tugging on Chase’s toy.
Chase is reward-trained, which means his good behavior is reinforced by playing with his favorite toys–a black tug toy and rubber balls.
“I like to stay away from the treats to keep his weight down,” said Piroli of Chase, who weighs about 68 pounds. “One day we train with the tug, one day with the balls, but more than anything, he works to please me.”
Many may not understand what is being said when Chase’s commands are being spoken as he is trained in Italian, which Piroli speaks fluently. Chase is also trained with hand commands.
“Police verbiage and the training process with dogs seems to get similar in the line of duty,” said Piroli. “When I tell somebody to stay there or get down, I don’t want to look back and see that Chase gets down or stays.”
Chase and Piroli work the 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. shift and Piroli uses that time to work on Chase’s skills, particularly tracking. In Chase’s time with the department, he has done three tracks. Though none of the tracks resulted in apprehending a suspect, Piroli still sees them as successful.
“They were all successful in my eyes because he’s tracked up to the final moment where the individuals were picked up by a vehicle and I know for a fact, due to arresting them afterwards, that two of them were picked up,” he said. “It is still training for him. I know that when he’s nose-down, tail’s up wagging and he’s got a good pull that he’s tracking.”
Piroli’s vehicle is updated with state-of-the-art equipment for canine units including a door-pop system with a button Piroli can push to remotely open the car door from up to 1,000 feet away and a cooling system that, if the car gets over 90 degrees, the windows go down and an internal fan goes on to cool the car.
“Everything is state-of-the-art thankfully due to donations and the town doing its part. We have everything that the highest tech canine department has, we have,” said Piroli, who has also received donated tracking leads, harnesses and has a bulletproof vest worth around $2,200 for Chase on the way. “A gentleman in Massachusetts is donating the vest–he just asked that his dog’s initials are put inside with the stitching.”
Despite any costs, Piroli sees nothing but positives in what Chase brings to the department.
“We spared no expense with Chase, which given the fact he’s such an asset was the least we could do,” he said. “Like the Lieutenant [David D’Ancicco] said, with the money that was spent on him, if we find one kid in the nine or 10 years he’s on duty, it’s worth the money.”