Yale police K9 doubles as service, comfort dog

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NEW HAVEN, Connecticut (WFSB) – A lot comes to the life of a Yale Police Department officer.

Officer Rich Simons and his K9 partner Heidi spoke to Channel 3 about it.

Any day, Patrolman Simons, a 28-year-old Yale PD veteran, and his K9 partner Officer Heidi patrol the Yale Police Department, the Yale University campus, and the surrounding areas. Your job is to comfort, support, and protect.

“It just makes my day so much brighter,” said Kelly Qiu, a graduate student.

“We love to have Heidi with us,” says Felix Aidala, also a graduate student. “We only let her come over last week. We have to play [with] her and caressed her, and it definitely helped to relieve stress. “

“We sometimes have long and tiring days and she really is a calming phenomenon,” said PhD student Elodie Chervin.

Officer Heidi is more than just a service dog for the students and the community. She also offers moral support to her colleagues.

Community policing has taken a new turn with these service dogs.

Simons said he knew early in his career that dogs can make a difference. He brought his own dogs to help those who needed it.

Now with Heidi he said his dream had come true. He cannot imagine his working day without Heidi.

“Not at all,” said Simons. “I’ve been doing it as a policewoman for so long and finally with Heidi, I feel like a 22nd policewoman again. It makes me feel like it warms my heart every day when I’m with Heidi and I go home with my best friend and come to work with my best friend. It’s the best feeling, I mean, the support I’ve got from this department and my boss’s office is incredible. “

Recently, Simons and Heidi were called in when Yale was banned from bomb threats.

“I went around with Heidi and conjured them up a smile. Heidi went up, wagged her tail and said ‘hello’, gave them kisses and interacted with them,” said Simons. “It made the day a lot easier for them and eased the tension they had, and we only talked about the day and they just kept saying, ‘Thank God Heidi was there, that made our day in this difficult situation done much better. ‘“

Yale Police Department deputy chief Anthony Campbell said he couldn’t be happier with Heidi on the team.

“Heidi is really a rock star, that’s the only way to really describe who she is,” said Campbell. “She is the newest addition to the police force. I am very grateful to her supervisor, Rich Simons, who really helped us get Heidi. Heidi comes from Puppies Behind Bars, a program that develops the dogs and trains them to become comfort therapy dogs. She really did a lot of talking to the officials here at Yale University PD, and she was really instrumental in getting us out to the community. “

Campbell said he felt the comfort duty dog ​​was really new to the community policing.

“I think that when you think of a dog, police work usually has a negative connotation, especially for many communities, especially communities that have been marginalized,” he said. “What we’re trying, and I think what a lot of departments are trying to do, is to change that, and by having a nice yellow lab comfort therapy dog ​​like Heidi, it changes perceptions when it comes to police and dogs.”

Campbell said he was glad the Yale University Police Department was the first Ivy League institution to have a comfort therapy dog.

“We hope that many others will follow suit because I think the students, the faculty and the staff all hugged Heidi,” he said. “The officials have, too, and I think it’s really helpful for the true well-being of the community.”

“Having Heidi for over a year has changed my view of the police and how I deal with people,” said Simons. “Because it gives me this opportunity to bring our story closer. The story of the Yale University Police Department of how we are normal, we are people who are important to us, and Heidi gives us the opportunity to tell about ourselves. And they want to hear about our story, they want to hear from my family, Heidi and the other officers that what happens in their lives is important to us. So Heidi has closed this gap so that they can see part of us personally. “

The K9 duo makes this Christmas season a little brighter and happier and changes life, one tail at a time.

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