In the short time she has been in Alpharetta, “Raider,” the new addition to the Alpharetta Department of Public Safety K-9 unit, is making a name for herself in the community.
“Raider,” a miniature black lab, has been with the force for almost two months.
According to the Alpharetta Department of Public Safety, “the fact that she looks like a puppy is why they chose her.”
“Our lead K9 handler and trainer found Raider through a local training company and decided she was a good fit for her role,” said her partner, Alpharetta Department of Public Safety Officer Phillip Ritchey.
“She will serve as a bridge between the force and the community to foster engagement and form relationships,” said a news release.
Raider has created a special bond with Ritchey, who has over 12 years on the force.
He is assigned to the Community Service Unit, but is also a K-9 handler. “Raider” is his first K-9 partner.
According to Ritchey, they have “literally been with each other every day since the day she started.
One place she has created a bond is with students at Alpharetta High School, home of the Raiders, from which she was aptly named.
“I came up with the idea of having a dog who was approachable by the community and students at our high school,” said Officer Ritchey.
He credits Raider for “increased the channels of communication between myself and the students.”
“I have been working with the high school for about six years and Raider has significantly increased student contacts with me,” said Ritchey.
Raider’s official title is “Community Service Youth Drug Prevention K-9.” She recently received her official National Narcotic Detector Dog Certification.
“The National Narcotic Detector Dog Association is a professional, nonprofit organization dedicated to the utilization and proficiency of scent detector dogs for the benefit of Law Enforcement and Private Industry.”
It provides training to K-9s “pertaining to the laws of search and seizure, utilizing scent detector dogs and a method of certification for court purposes.”
“To be certified, the K-9 team must locate one or two hides in a room no larger than 1000 square feet. The team has two minutes to locate the odor. The dog has to do this for each odor they are trained in,” said Ritchey.
Most narcotics dogs are unapproachable and people are not supposed to pet them due to the way they are trained. “‘Raider’ is the exception as her job is to protect and engage.”
“Raider is exposed to the community more than our current K9’s because that is her job, meet people,” said Ritchey.
Servicing the community is not the only thing Raider’s been doing for the past two months.
Raider has accrued a significant following on social media, specifically Instagram, where her account, @adps_k9_raider has over 800 followers.
“She attracts people to pet her and that leads to a self-initiated conversation between the police officer and the citizen. This conversation is a positive contact with a police officer and we need those as often as possible,” said Ritchey.
According to Ritchey, this leaves residents with a good perception and “helps us as a department.”
A news release describes “when people see Raider, they want to pet her. Unlike most working dogs, Raider is allowed to be pet.”
“Some people are afraid of dogs, but I have found out, they would much rather pet a 35 pound dog named Raider.”
More information about the Alpharetta Department of Public Safety is available at http://www.alpharetta.ga.us/government/departments/public-safety.