ESSEX Police dogs and their handlers made a clean sweep of the Eastern Regional Dog Trials.
From tracking to public order and from obedience to detaining suspects, the Essex Police team proved they were top dogs when they were unleashed during the annual event, which tests the skills of the top police handlers and their dogs from across the Eastern Counties.
Police Dogs Bruce, Armour and Kaiser – and, of course, their human handlers PC Andy Blunt, PC Ross Ashcroft and PC Martin Swain – won all the trophies on offer.
Inspector Carl Habbershaw said the team fully deserved a round of ap-paws. “The handlers and dogs in our Dog Section are dedicated to keeping people safe and catching criminals and they train very hard to do this.
“Together, they attend a variety of incidents across Essex and support our colleagues around the force in tackling the most dangerous offenders, whilst securing and recovering vital evidence.
“The trials give handlers the chance to demonstrate their skills whilst competing against colleagues from our section and other forces. This year, the team was brilliant and it was a clean sweep for Essex, as they impressed the judges.”
Andy and PD Bruce were placed first overall, also winning the Searching Trophy and the Man-Work Trophy – where each officer and police dog pair demonstrate the skills required in the pursuit and safe detention of suspects.
Runners up were Ross and PD Armour, who also won the Obedience Trophy, and third-placed were Martin and PD Kaiser, who won the Tracking Trophy.
The sextet also took the overall team trophy during an intense three-day competition, this year hosted by Essex Police.
They were competing against the three top handlers in each of the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk forces and British Transport Police. Judges were from Avon & Somerset Police and the Ministry of Defence Police.
Andy and Ross, with PD Bruce and PD Armour, have qualified for the National Dog Trials and will be competing against other top handlers and their dogs in Nottingham, from May 18-20.
Our Dog Section has 25 handlers and 46 dogs, just over half which have been trained as general-purpose police dogs, not only to track suspects but to assist in searches for missing people and to find evidence, such as weapons used in assaults, and stolen property.
The rest have specialist skills such as detecting drugs, cash, weapons, explosives, forensic evidence and digital media devices.