The Elon Police Department has a new officer on the beat, and he has four legs.
Spartacus is a 2-year-old Dutch Shepherd from Mexico City whose strong work ethic and drive made him the perfect addition to the department.
Officer Ditra Graves is Spartacus’ handler, and she has enjoyed working with him because he embodies her same hardworking personality.
“You want a dog that fits your personality,” Graves said. “I’m a hard worker, and I have a lot of drive, so I was looking for a dog that wants to work just as much as I do.”
Spartacus has already put his best paw forward.
“He had his first vet trip the other day, and he actually got three shots and still worked all day,” Graves said.
Spartacus is currently undergoing an intense eight-week training program run by NC K-9 out of Burlington.
“It’s a Monday through Friday class, typically runs anywhere from eight to 10 hours per day,” Graves said. “It’s a combination of things, so we’re trained on how to do narcotic detection, tracks for missing persons [and] articles, open area searches, things of that nature.”
Once Spartacus finishes his training he will become certified in tracking and trailing human scents, narcotic detection and criminal apprehension.
Spartacus was imprinted as a puppy, which means he was introduced to the scent of marijuana, cocaine and heroin at a young age, in order to learn their scents and be raised as a future police dog.
When he graduates K-9 school, Spartacus will spend the majority of his time on patrol with Graves being utilized to alert the scent of narcotics in a vehicle during traffic stops.
The Elon Police Department is hoping to be able to purchase another K-9 unit in July if the budget allows.
“K-9s have a unique ability to detect a wide range of people and things, so much of the things they can do, humans can’t do,” said Assistant Chief James Perry, who was the first K-9 handler at the department. “More K-9s will help keep both people and our officers safe.”
Buying a K-9 and training it costs around $15,000, not including other expenses such as veterinarian bills, food and toys. But the expenses were worth it, according to Perry, who can’t wait to see Spartacus on the field.
“We are really excited to have Spartacus come on board,” Perry said. “Ditra and Spartacus are going to work well together.”
Graves expressed the same excitement about beginning to go on patrol with her new four-legged partner.
“We have a good bond going on, but we’re working on making it better. It’s a process,” Graves said. “We’re going to make an awesome team though.”