The Boise Police Department's new dog isn't a drug detector or other highly trained K9. He's a shaggy black and white pound puppy turned police mascot whose name will be chosen by Boise schoolchildren.
The mixed-breed stray, rescued from the Canyon County animal shelter then enrolled in the inmate dog training program through the Idaho Department of Correction, was introduced at the Boise City Council meeting Tuesday afternoon.
Although his official name won't be chosen until the end of this month, for now many people at BPD have been calling him "Bandit," police spokesman Ryan Larrondo said. He’s also been temporarily dubbed “Copper,” for Community Outreach Pup.
Boise Police Chief Bill Bones came up with the idea for a canine mascot as a way to strengthen the department's community ties and increase public safety outreach, according to a BPD news release.
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“The stronger and more connected we are with the people we serve, more crimes will be solved and fewer people will be victimized by crime," Bones said. "A dog can make an instant connection, help us bridge gaps, and help more people feel comfortable approaching and talking with an officer.”
The new mascot doesn't have a fancy pedigree or specialized training. But that's kind of the point.
“He’s a rescue dog. And he’s scrappy and a bit shaggy, but friendly and a good-hearted pup," Bones said. “A lot of us can relate to having a rough start or needed a second chance to make a positive difference. ”
After completing IDOC training in July, the dog was assigned to two BPD employees, one officer and one non-sworn staff member, who continued to evaluate his fitness for duty.
His duties will include attending community events, serving as a "therapy dog" to ease the distress of a crime victim or witness, and enhancing the work environment at BPD's administrative headquarters..
The dog’s name will be chosen through a contest that's open to all classrooms, kindergarten through 8th grade, in Boise, as well as home and online student groups. One entry per classroom or group can be submitted by the teacher to namethenewBPDdog@cityofboise.org. Entries must be accompanied by a short story or explanation of why the children have selected that.
Entries must be received by 5 p.m. Sept. 22. Entries will be narrowed down by a committee of BPD employees, then the winner and two runners-up will be chosen by a committee including Chief Bones, Jim Zamzow, Corbin Maxey “The Reptile Guy”, IDOC Director Kevin Kemp and the 12-year-old daughter of the officer assigned as the dog’s handler.
The winning name will be announced at an ice cream party in the winning classroom.