The Police Service of Northern Ireland officially has Top Dogs in its ranks!
Two of its canine officers secured the coveted 1st and 2nd places at the 56th National Police Dog Trials, which took place in Belfast this weekend.
PD Mike was declared the overall champion for 2016, while his four-legged colleague PD Finn won 2nd place – staving off stiff competition from the 15 other highly-skilled canine competitors entered from police services across the UK.
The prestigious National Trials, which were last won by PSNI 11 years ago, provide a platform to showcase the expertise, skills and abilities of handlers and their canine colleagues as well as provide the public with a glimpse into the significant contribution they make daily in protecting people and communities.
During the 3-day public event at the Civil Service Club Pavilion in Stormont, the police dogs demonstrated a variety of skills through practical scenarios, all of which highlighted the valuable roles they play within policing on a daily basis. These included chasing and detaining a criminal, searching for a person or for an item within a property, as well as obedience and agility skills.
PD Mike’s handler Constable McCrea said: “I feel very lucky indeed to have won the competition on home soil with the support of colleagues, family and friends – it’s been an amazing experience.
“It’s always good to test yourself against dogs from other police services because the standard of all the competitors is so high. The skills the dogs are being tested on are put to use every day in our jobs. It’s a team effort and I am so proud of Mike and the determination he puts in. I trust him implicitly in all that we do together. Tomorrow though it’s back to work as normal.”
Constable Bradley, who is PD Finn’s handler, added: “I am really elated at winning 2nd place today and extremely proud of Finn. It’s a unique situation to have 1st and 2nd place won by the same Police Service. As far as I’m aware this is the first time it has happened in the 56 year history of the Trials.
“It’s been fantastic to showcase the skills we use every day and the competition allows us to show the dedication, professionalism and commitment of the entire dog handling family within PSNI. Finn has never let me down once in the 4 years we have been working together. His reward tonight will be a steak – he’s requested it medium rare!”
Superintendent Nigel Goddard explained that trained dogs play an important role within policing by supporting officers in a number of ways, including finding missing people, locating illegal drugs, cash and explosives, controlling crowds, searching cordon points and public venues, as well as tracking down criminals who attempt to ‘get-away’
He said: “I am immensely proud of our two handlers and their dogs PD Mike and PD Finn. Their double success at the Trials is testament to the commitment of Constables McCrea and Bradley in ensuring their dogs are continually trained to the highest standard. I congratulate them both on their outstanding success today and know they will continue making a significant contribution to Keeping People Safe in Northern Ireland every day.”