“Look, she found one!” exclaims a first-grade student on the playground at Primrose Elementary School.
The children are watching as Flora, an explosives detection dog, goes to work to find the objects placed around the playground by her handler, Sergeant Frank Pagliuca of the Westchester County Police Department. The visit and demonstration at Primrose is part of the police department’s community outreach program.
“One of the things I love about the job is showing what Flora can do. It thrills the children, and they relate her to their dogs at home,” says Pagliuca. ”When they see a dog that actually works and they understand that a dog can do things that are beyond what a human can do, it’s a thrill to me.”
A student in Keri Cash’s class raises her hand.
“My grandfather has two German Shepherds, and they are really good dogs,” she tells Pagliuca.
“German Shepherds are used by police to do all sorts of things,” says Pagliuca, “Including apprehension, narcotics detection, and tracking.”
Flora is used mostly for safety and security sweeps, and as a visual deterrent to crime, especially at Westchester County airport.
“Go make her find something,” a boy pleads.
Flora races off to a box placed under a basketball hoop and bounds back to Pagliuca with her tail wagging wildly.
“See how differently she acts when she’s done her job?” Pagliuca asks the kids.
Primrose’s School Resource Officer, Brian Pavletich, arranges the canine unit visits, as well as the upcoming helicopter landing on the Primrose playground.
“These kinds of events show a different side of policing and allow us to develop relationships with the kids,” says Pavletich. “You can see how happy they are anytime we bring a dog here, or a helicopter. Seeing all the smiles is awesome.”