Harrisburg, PA – The three people who graduated today from a 13-week K-9 Academy training course on the grounds of a state Department of Corrections (DOC) facility are the first Pennsylvania parole agents to be certified as K-9 handlers.
"It is only because of the consolidation of the Department of Corrections (DOC) and the PA Board of Probation and Parole's reentry/parole supervision duties – under a 2017 memorandum of understanding – that today's graduation is possible," said Corrections Secretary John Wetzel. "While the DOC has had a Drug Interdiction Unit since 1995, these are the first parole agents ever to be trained and certified as K-9 handlers. This accomplishment demonstrates the importance of the consolidation and justifies legislative measures to complete the actual merge into a new cabinet-level agency. Without the consolidation/MOU, I'm confident that we would not be here today celebrating this achievement."
At the graduation ceremony, held at the DOC K-9 academy located on prison grounds between SCIs Benner Township and Rockview, Brian Rosswog, Justin Parson and William Stidfole formally completed the course. Each parole agent will return to his respective parole region and assist parole agents in searching community corrections centers and parolee residences when needed. These dogs also are the first corrections K-9s to be trained in human detection, in addition to traditional drug detection skills.
The DOC has four K-9 handlers certified as instructors by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol in Front Royal, Virginia. Two of the certified instructors trained the three new handlers.
Including today's three graduates, the DOC's Drug Interdiction Unit is comprised of 27 handlers and dogs.
"The K-9 agents will provide parole field supervision services with another tool to enhance public safety, said Christian Stephens, deputy secretary of field services. "Although the focus of parole field supervision historically has been the successful reentry of parolees into the community, the use of K-9 agents will emphasize safety, security and deterrence. They also will assist in assuring that reentrants are returning to safer environments and communities, which will only enhance our reentry efforts."
Following the ceremony, where Brian Rosswog was awarded the "Top Dog" award, academy members demonstrated the K-9 unit's skills.
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