The Mercer County Sheriff’s Department demonstrated the tactics of their K-9 Unit on the quad of Mercer’s West Windsor Campus at noon on Monday, August 24. The event was sponsored by Mercer’s Criminal Justice Club.
“Every fall I’m trying to bring [the K-9 unit] in,” said Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, and Criminal Justice Club faculty co-advisor Elizabeth Bondurant in an interview with The VOICE. Prof. Bondurant is a 25 year law enforcement veteran who served as chief of police of Plainsboro, NJ before coming to Mercer.
“Every year, Bondurant tries to do this for her students,” said Mercer’s Commanding Officer for security, Michael Flaherty, who was used as the mock target for the K-9 attack dog.
A group of students and faculty stopped to watch as Flaherty donned a “training sleeve” and engaged the highly-trained German shepherd.
Professor Bondurant describes the training sleeve as “very thick,” saying it is made from “layers of burlap and canvas material.”
Flaherty said he had no qualms about participating in the demonstration and had no reservations about using the sleeve.
“I found it fun,” he said, adding, “it wasn’t scary or anything.”
Not everyone present was as composed. One female student got up and left, saying, “Get that dog away from me,” after the animal showed a keen interest in her Cup of Noodles.
Other onlookers took away different messages from the demonstration.
“It was cool,” said Ethan Hastings, “it taught you to stay away from police.”
According to a short speech given by one of the officers present, the dogs are very versatile. In addition to being used to apprehend criminal suspects they are also trained to locate wounded humans. For that skill, actual human cadavers are used to train the dogs, the officer explained.
Professor Bondurant said she hoped the event would serve to “demystify the use of K-9 units…I think some people view them as attack dogs, but they are really a controlled tool of the police officers.”