Although he came from humble, if not obscured, beginnings, the newest employee in the Burlington County Sheriff’s Department is trained and ready to take on some serious assignments.
His name is Scottie, a 2-year-old chocolate Labrador mix, who along with his handler, Sheriff’s Officer Monica Clark, has just completed an intense 14-week training course—funded and taught by the state police—in explosive detection.
Scottie is now also a member of the New Jersey State Police Detect and Render Safe Task Force—or to put it in plain language, he is certified to search for and sniff out bombs.
“Or to put it another way, Scottie is not just another pretty, furry face,” said Sheriff Jean Stanfield. “Explosive detection is serious business. Scottie and Officer Clark can be called out on a moment’s notice to assist other law enforcement agencies in bomb search emergencies—not just here in Burlington County, but throughout the state.”
This is actually the department’s second canine team. The other pair is Sheriff’s Detective Chris Reinhart and Grena, a 7-year-old German shepherd, who is also a “bomb sniffer.”
Clark and Reinhart take responsibility for their dogs on a 24/7 basis. They provide care and feeding for their “partners,” and are ready to answer an emergency call, day or night.
Clark and Scottie were one of 20 canine teams that graduated June 29 at the State Police Canine Academy in Sea Girt.
“Those were long days,” Clark said of the training sessions. “It was a lot of work, but it was also a great challenge. The dogs are trained to become sensitive to 14 different scents, all associated with explosives, and when they come upon a device or package that contains the scent, they provide a passive alert; they sit.”
The last thing one wants a bomb-sniffing dog to do is paw or scratch the object.
As for Scottie, despite his new talents, he comes across as an unassuming, friendly enough fellow.
Interestingly enough, Scottie was rescued by a canine organization out-of-state, before he was discovered and enlisted by the Burlington County Sheriff’s Department.
Scottie was not on-staff when the county complex in Mount Holly was evacuated following a bomb threat on April 12. The Courts Facility and County Administration were thoroughly searched by bomb-sniffing dogs before employees and the public were allowed to return an hour later.
Some relentless investigatory work by a Burlington County sheriff’s officer recently led to the arrest of two Mercer County men on charges of calling in the phony threat.
Information provided by the Burlington County Sheriff's Office