“Alec,” UMass Police Department’s new K-9 officer has been making the rounds around campus, keeping UMass safe and providing community outreach and student engagement in his first semester on the job.
Alec, who turns two years old in April, began making his first venue sweeps last week with his handler, Officer Gerald Perkins, following an extensive three-month training at the Massachusetts State Police Academy, graduating Dec. 5.
“Alec’s keen sense of smell and extremely high food drive really came through in his final odor discrimination test, which he passed with flying colors,” Perkins says.
The Labrador Retriever sweeps academic classrooms and other large venues on campus like the Mullins Center to search for potential explosives, although Officer Perkins says that bomb calls and events needing explosive ordnance detection are extremely rare, and that the majority of Alec’s day-to-day work will be community relations with the UMass campus and Amherst area.
In his first week of the semester Alec visited all over campus interacting with students and faculty, stopping for pets at some popular break spots on campus. He also cheered on athletes at the Hamden/Hampshire Special Olympics bowling competition at AMF Bowling, Chicopee (pictured below).
“Alec’s been a great addition to both UMPD and the campus community,” said Chief of Police Tyrone Parham. “Officer Perkins and Alec have made their rounds on campus and everyone’s eyes light up when they see him just as we’d hoped. Hopefully we’ll never have an incident where we’ll need him to sniff out a bomb, but he’s fantastic at explosive detection as well, which makes the campus community safer.”
A search for a second K-9 officer, who will be handled by Officer Theodore Bonnayer, is underway and a dog should be selected within the next two weeks. Upon selection, the dog and Officer Bonnayer will undergo the same training Officer Perkins and Alec underwent and the State Police Academy. Chief Parham expects that the second dog will arrive on campus towards the end of the semester.
Follow Alec on Instagram at @UMPDK9Alec, where he can be contacted and requested to visit certain locations through direct message.