Delaware County’s drug-detecting German shepherd “Ozzie” and his handler Deputy John DeMeo are a highly sought-after duo.
They will likely be in even greater demand after their recent graduation (with honors) from the Syracuse Police Department K9 Training Academy in Syracuse, according to a recent media release.
“Ozzie’s all over the place,” said DeMeo, the dog’s sole caretaker and instructor. “He helps out state police, Delhi police, Walton police ... Everybody wants us somewhere at all times.”
Ozzie was one of six dogs to graduate from the program after more than nine weeks and 360 hours of training, according the release. Topics covered included obedience, agility, ground disturbance tracking, patrol and apprehension.
The 2-year-old K-9 cop is now certified to apprehend a subject and track for missing persons or an individual who has fled a crime scene, DeMeo said.
In addition to their new certification, DeMeo and Ozzie received the prestigious Sergeant Ron Dalton Award, which is given to a new K9 team for their “outstanding, professional and dedicated efforts as part of the course,” according to the release.
“We are very proud of Deputy DeMeo and K9 Ozzie and their ability to provide their services to the citizens of Delaware County,” said Delaware County Sheriff Tom Mills.
Ozzie, who was purchased last year by the Sheriff’s Department, has helped locate drugs and hidden contraband on countless occasions by detecting the scent of narcotics and signalling their location inside homes, buildings and vehicles, according to Delaware County Undersheriff Craig DuMond, who attended the May 30th graduation.
DuMond said Ozzie and DeMeo are “very close,” and, with the help of their teamwork, the Delaware County Sheriff’s Criminal Investigation Division has increased its felony drug-related arrests by 227 percent in recent years.
“The ability to have a narcotics dog was definitely needed,” DuMond said. “We are very appreciative of everyone who helped make it possible.”