The year 2020 has been a year when we can all use a little extra comfort, and coincidentally, 2020 is the year when Brody arrived on campus.
A male yellow Labrador Retriever, Brody was originally being trained as a service dog for the Guiding Eyes for the Blind program, a nonprofit organization that “provides superbly bred and trained dogs to people who are blind and visually impaired.” But because he maybe liked chasing squirrels too much to be an effective guide dog, he became available for the University Police Department to purchase from the Guiding Eyes program with federal grant funding.
Brody’s primary purpose at Southern is to keep the campus and the Southern community safe. He is trained solely to locate explosives and can recognize nearly 30 different explosive odors.
Last spring, Brody attended an 8-week training academy with the Connecticut State Police K-9 Unit and graduated in the 210th Explosive Detection Class. Brody was one of nine dogs that graduated on May 8; his “classmates” were dogs from the Connecticut State Police, Vermont State Police, Newington, New Hampshire Police Department, the United Nations Police Department, New Haven Police Department and Yale Police Department.
In addition to his explosive detection capabilities, Brody is being used to enhance the Southern Police Department’s commitment to community policing, as Brody will be dual-purposed as a “comfort canine.” In this role, he will provide comfort and affection to Southern students, faculty, and staff, as well as the Southern community. Research has shown that dogs can have a positive impact on campus communities, as they help reduce anxieties in a variety of situations, and Brody’s presence on campus is meant to ease anxiety in a variety of situations, such as exams, stressful workdays, and personal crises. The university has held a number of “therapy dog” visits on campus over the past several years, particularly during stressful times like final exams week, but those dogs came from off-campus organizations. Now Southern has its own therapy dog in Brody.
By interacting with the Southern community on a daily basis, the K-9 team will have increased opportunities to educate students, faculty, and staff on safety concerns and encourage positive encounters with law enforcement. Brody is available to members of the Southern community, whether for an upcoming event or just a visit to relieve stress and brighten a day.
Brody is NESPAC (New England State Police Administrator’s Conference) certified and will be expected to assist throughout the greater New Haven area, and possibly in New England, for major public events such as the Boston Marathon or VIP visits.