Behind the scenes with the New York State Police Canine Unit

Local News

WELLSBURG, N.Y. (WETM) – Amid the uptick in violence in Elmira, the New York State Police Canine Team is continuing to train to combat crime. This specialized unit helps in specific investigations involving tracking and narcotics.

“I think everyone that comes into law enforcement once again involved in the specialty unit, whether it be with SWAT or canine or scuba or something like that. I’ve always wanted to become a member of one of those,” Trooper Salyerds explained.

Trooper Brandon Salyerds has been a canine specialist for nine years. He and his partner Theo trained at the NYSP Training Center in Cooperstown, N.Y. When in the field, Trooper Salyerds uses commands in Slovakian, Theo’s native language. He is Trooper Salyerds’ second partner and is a five-year-old Belgian Malinois.

All State Police Canines are named in honor of a fallen Trooper. Theo is named after Trooper Theodore Dobbs, who served his last watch in 1924. Now, Theo’s job is to protect Trooper Salyerds and alert his human partner when he finds the suspect or substance in question.

“They just find things and people that we can compensate in or someone’s walked away. Unless there’s footprints and snow or something like that, it’s going to be hard for us to find [them], so we use their super nose and help us find [suspects or substances],” Trooper Salyerds continued.

Dogs can be a critical component of a variety of investigations because of their heightened senses. Theo is trained in narcotics, tracking and apprehension. His narcotics training will soon become obsolete as New York moves forward with the legalization of marijuana. Theo cannot be retrained to accommodate the change in law and Trooper Salyerds said Theo could retire early because of it.

One of the best parts of Trooper Salyerds job is spending it with his partner Theo because it is more than a job, it is an unbreakable bond.

“It’s really rewarding the last nine years. You get so attached. We spend every waking moment together. My partner is my shadow everywhere I go. When I’m at home, they’re with me. When I’m on duty for 12 hours, they’re always with me, so it’s quite the bond,” Trooper Salyerds concluded.

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