WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Winston-Salem Police Department’s newest K-9 is a 2-year-old Belgian Malinois named Copper.
Copper became a member of the WSPD family when Corporal Gary Neal’s partner of six and a half years, Cash, retired.
Corporal Neal traveled to Shallow Creek Kennel in rural northwest Pennsylvania to get his new K-9 dog.
The kennel is known around the nation and around the world by law enforcement and military agencies for their police service dogs.
“Just based on the characteristics and the drives of the dogs that we got from there, we’ve continued to go there,” Neal explained.
Neal said, “When we got Copper we looked at ten different dogs and during that time we test them,” to make sure they meet the needs of the officers.
After 6 hours of testing, Corporal Neal selected the Belgian Malinois, formerly known as ‘Eddy.’
Earlier this year, the department held a naming contest for their newest K-9 and announced on March 14 that ‘Copper’ had won. Other names included Deacon, Blaze, Sarge, Eclipse, and Zippy.
This week is Copper’s first on active duty, patrolling the streets of Winston-Salem.
“We’ve been training for about 400 hours now,” Neal said. “Last Tuesday was his official first day out on the streets since being trained.”
According to the City of Winston-Salem website, “the canine team is utilized to conduct evidence searches, narcotics and article searches, tracking of suspects and missing persons, building searches, and apprehension of suspects.”
We asked Corporal Neal a few questions about Copper. Here’s what he said:
Q: How old is Copper?
A: Copper will be 2 years in September.
Q: Where did Copper come from?
A: Probably our last ten dogs we’ve gotten from a kennel called Shallow Creek. Just based on the characteristics and the drives of the dogs that we got from there, we’ve continued to go there. When we got Copper we looked at ten different dogs and during that time we test them.
Q: What are the characteristics you look for in a K-9 recruit?
A: What we’re looking for is that drive, that eagerness to do what you’re wanting them to do and not all dogs have it, as you know. Some will lay on the couch, some will chase their tail for 10 hours. We’re kinda looking for the in-between: We want that dog that wants to come to work, has that eagerness to please you, and just that willingness to do whatever is needed.
Q: What was Copper’s first assignment?
A: We were called out to assist with a search warrant in which Copper was able to do a free-air sniff of a vehicle which was included in the search warrant. So, I deployed him at the vehicle, gave him the command to find drugs and he sniffed the vehicle. He did not alert and we were actually given consent by the owner to do a search of the vehicle and nothing was found, so he did his job.
Q: What has your experience been with Copper so far?
A: So far, it’s been very, very positive. He’s much different than my previous partner Cash. He’s much more, like you’ve seen, clingy; Cash, he wanted to be near me, but still wanted to be four feet away from me.
Q: What’s Copper’s most unique trait?
A: He comes out of his kennel every morning thinking he’s going to get a tennis ball and he wants to play, and that’s a good attribute to have with the dogs. Like I said: they wanna get out and get to work and all they’re looking for is that reward.