Police at Benedictine University have man’s best friend as their newest member of the force.
While a number of schools across the country use K9 dogs on campus, Benedictine University is the only suburban private institution in the area to use a four-legged police officer.
At first glance Sophie may look like your typical one-year-old Golden Retriever. She listens to her owner Officer John Rogacki and loves playing ball. But take a closer look and Sophie isn’t just a typical dog. She can detect drugs like crack, cocaine, crystal meth, marijuana and heroine from as far as 25 feet away.
“When they start working they filter out anything else until they find an odor they recognize,” explained Rogacki. “When you watch them work you can see them and they get onto an odor and you can tell right away. Their character will change immediately.”
Officer Rogacki trained Sophie to be a passive dog, meaning she alerts Rogacki by sitting when she discovers drugs, which he says is beneficial when doing a person search.
“If you suspect a person at a party you can have the person sit down and she’ll inspect them,” he said. “If you have something on you, any residue, she’ll indicate and just sit down. And boom, I’ll know you had something illegal on you, or still have something illegal on you.”
While you may typically think of a German Shepherd as a K9 dog, Officer Rogacki prefers Golden Retrievers, and says this breed is a little less intimidating. He views it as taking his pet to work with him, since when she isn’t working Sophie is the family dog. Rogacki says she has made quite a reputation on the college campus.
“I walk around with her and lot of people know her more than they know me,” said Rogacki. “Right away they say ‘Sophie! Sophie! Sophie!’ and I’m just the person on the other end of the leash. They could care less.”
Even though Sophie has only been on the clock a few months, she has already made an impact on drug use at Benedictine.
“About two months ago we had an incident with an employee using heroine, and she was able to detect it,” said Officer Rogacki. “He was using heroine at a certain location at his desk, and one thing led to another, and one day he had the heroine on him and he was relieved from his duties here. If you use drugs you may get away with it for a little while, but sooner of later you’re going to get caught.”
Officer Rogacki says he hopes Sophie will influence other colleges and universities in the area to consider using K9 dogs like Sophie.
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