High Tech K-9s: How Area Police Dogs Use GPS to Solve Cases

Andover K-9 Grimm demonstrates the GPS collar his handler Sgt. Mick Connor uses. (Courtesy photograph)

Andover K-9 Grimm demonstrates the GPS collar his handler Sgt. Mick Connor uses. (Courtesy photograph)

WHAV is saluting local and state K-9 officers and their four-legged partners in a special series. Listen to the special Dog Days of Summer series Monday through Friday, at 97.9 WHAV FM. The special series is sponsored by the Law Offices of Joseph C. Edwards, Neptune Uniforms, Quinn’s Canine Café and Riverside Veterinary Clinic.

Have tech, will travel! Several area police departments, including Andover, are among the local law enforcement agencies turning to technology to improve their case solvability rates.

Andover’s Sergeant Michael “Mickey” Connor, the department’s sole K-9 handler, is one of the officers who has seen a boost in solves when using equipment like a GPS collar worn by his German shepherd partner Grimm.

“We have GPS so we know we’re searching. Back in the day, we’d be over-searching an area. You’d go left or right and then not know where you’ve covered. Now, it’s a lot more thorough.”

The specialized tracking practice, also utilized by Plaistow, N.H.’s Sergeant Alec Porter (with his Belgian Malinois Shadow) and by mutual aid agency NEMLEC, first began as a way to track hunting dogs, NEMLEC’s Sergeant John Harring tells WHAV.

Harring, of the Billerica Police Department, oversees the Northeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council’s 20-dog K-9 regional response team, which comes to cities like Haverhill, to assist in cases for communities that do not have a dog.

Porter tells WHAV using technology and his canine’s super sense of smell helps departments like Plaistow better utilize their force’s officers. His dog, Shadow, for instance, can search just under a half-mile in five minutes.

While technology is a tremendous asset to K-9 handlers, Harring tells WHAV it all comes down to the bond between a human and canine partner. His four-legged partner, Tootsie, has assisted with cadaver and evidence searches with Harring.

“It’s not a pet. The dog is like a professional athlete. (The dog) needs to be able to do a job and do it well, and (the handler) has to be able to fit with that personality also,” says Harring.