First day of school: Orange PD’s new K-9 begins training

Orange Police Department’s K-9 Swoop, pictured outside the Police Station.

Orange Police Department’s K-9 Swoop, pictured outside the Police Station. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Orange K-9 Officer Kyle Johnson with the department’s newest K-9, Swoop, outside the Police Station.

Orange K-9 Officer Kyle Johnson with the department’s newest K-9, Swoop, outside the Police Station. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Orange Police Department’s K-9 Swoop, pictured outside the Police Station.

Orange Police Department’s K-9 Swoop, pictured outside the Police Station. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Orange K-9 Officer Kyle Johnson with the department’s newest K-9, Swoop, outside the Police Station.

Orange K-9 Officer Kyle Johnson with the department’s newest K-9, Swoop, outside the Police Station. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer

Published: 03-25-2024 9:50 AM

Modified: 03-25-2024 1:56 PM


ORANGE — The Police Department’s newest officer is joining the academy this week.

Swoop, a 1-year-old black Labrador, has been in Officer Kyle Johnson’s care for four weeks and is now beginning narcotics training at the Hampden County Jail and House of Correction in Ludlow for four to eight weeks to learn to detect illicit drugs and alert officers to their presence.

“It’s not a set amount of time, because every dog is different,” Johnson said of Swoop’s training. “I think he does really well in every aspect that I’ve seen so far, so I’m optimistic. I think he’ll do really well with the narcotics [training].”

Johnson explained Swoop, who came from a breeder in Connecticut, is expected to be trained in tracking once the narcotics training is complete. He said, however, the dog will track only people who are in need of help — never a dangerous person — and will not apprehend any suspects.

“There’s always a risk,” Johnson cautioned. “There’s some really great dogs that don’t get through training.”

Swoop was born in February 2023, on the day of Super Bowl LVII, which pitted the Kansas City Chiefs against the Philadelphia Eagles. The breeder named the dog after the Eagles’ mascot.

“We stuck with it because I think it’s unique and it’s a good name,” Johnson said.

Johnson was awarded the K-9 handler position after interviewing for the job following the retirement of K-9 Orka, a 9-year-old Belgian Malinois whose final shift was on Dec. 29 due to arthritis. Orka’s handler, Christopher Bisceglia, also had to step down from his position because, for personal reasons, he cannot adopt another dog at this time. Orka had been on the job for 7½ years.

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Johnson said Swoop cost $8,000. This money was fronted by the Pioneer Junior Women’s Club, with support from Mount Tully Kennels, Pete’s Tire Barns, Hamshaw Lumber and private donor Steve Johnson.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-930-4120.