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New dog handlers celebrate graduation

We are delighted to have welcomed two new police dogs and their handlers to our dog support unit.

PC Luke Nixon and PD Maddie, two, celebrated their graduation alongside PC Leah Smith and one-year-old PD Bones on Thursday (30 November). They were congratulated by Chief Constable Chris Noble (pictured centre-left) and PC Scott Tatton (centre-right).

Following an intensive 13-week course, the German Shepherds are now trained in the tracking and searching of suspects and missing persons, in property recovery and in apprehending suspects. They are now fully operational to police the county of Staffordshire.

Luke, who celebrates nine years of service next month, said: "I was inspired to join the dogs unit after seeing the work that they do and wanting to be involved in that side of the job."

Leah, who joined the force in 2019, added: "To be a dog handler has honestly been my dream since I was a little girl. I joined the police in order to look back on a career that I enjoyed, and how better to do that than by working with a such a wonderful dog?"

On the course itself, Luke said: "Dog training is not a one-solution-fits-all situation - it may be that you have to try different things in order to get the desired behaviour or response from your dog and it may take a few attempts to get things right.

"That's why I found it so rewarding, because Maddie and I have grown together as a pair and I've been able to see that bond between us develop over the 13-week period.

"It is the best course I have ever done."

Leah agreed: "The course is challenging and tiring, but is also, without question, the best experience I have had since joining the police.

"It's a constant learning process that requires determination and resilience, but it's all worth it for that feeling you get when everything begins to click into place.

"It was, honestly, just fantastic and so much fun."

On graduating, she continued: "Licencing with Bones still feels surreal. At such a young age and with only a few years of service, I feel extremely lucky to have been successful and given the opportunity to become a dog handler.

"She is only 20 months old, so she is very keen, cheeky and full of character, which I love about her. I really couldn't wish for a better first dog and I cannot wait to better our working partnership on the streets and achieve results."

Luke added: "Surreal is the best word I can use too. It hasn’t quite sunk in yet.

"It feels like such an achievement to get the job I’ve always wanted to do and I’m looking forward to getting out there and progressing as a team."


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