Cape Coral police welcome new K-9s

Reporter: Nicole Lauren Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:
K-9 handler Tyson Stempel with Draco. Credit: WINK News

The Cape Coral Police Department is welcoming a trio of new members to its ranks, all of them with four legs. The CCPD has been short three K-9s for a few months, and it says these new additions are much-needed to keep Cape Coral and its officers safe.

Each of the dogs — named Draco, Sager and Aramis — is a little over a year old. After they are trained, they will be used for things like missing person cases and drug detection. Their handlers could agree on one thing: This job takes a lot of patience.

“Patience is a big thing with new handlers and new dogs,” said K-9 handler Michael Cintron. “[A dog] needs to be busy. If he’s not busy, he’s looking for something to do.”

“You’re trying to communicate that with him the best you can,” said handler Matthew Mills. “You’re trying to figure out what they wanna do, and they’re trying to figure out what we want them to do.”

“The dogs are a force multiplier,” said K-9 trainer Brian Aponte. “They can take just one officer to do the job of several officers. Especially for finding people, wanted people. It’s much safer to use the dogs to locate felons rather than the multiple officers and send them in, into a dangerous situation.”

The handlers are still getting a handle on their new partners, but some can already sense what they will be good at.

“He is very high energy; easily distracted, but very smart,” said Tyson Sempel, handler of Draco, a German shepherd-Malinois mix. “Just being around him, I think he’s going to be pretty great at tracking. When he comes out, he’s always looking for food, but he’s always got his nose to the ground.”

Most dogs love treats, but to K-9s, the bad guy is the greatest one you can offer.

“It’s rewarding for us, and you can see all the hard work paid off when you see the final product,” Cintron said.

The CCPD expects the K-9s to be fully working by the summer after they’ve received the needed amount of training: 600 hours each.

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