Club & Greek

Who Let the Dogs Out?

Criminal Justice Honor Society Hosts Monmouth County Sheriff’s K-9 Unit


The National Criminal Justice honor society, Alpha Phi Sigma, hosted the K-9 Unit of the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday, April 10. They raised $300 towards new vests for the dogs and had over 100 students and faculty in attendance.

The event, held on the second floor of the Student Center, was organized by senior Cathy Jones, President of Alpha Phi Sigma, along with other members of the honor society. They also got help from a new and upcoming club on campus, the Society of Female Criminologists.

The demonstration was introduced by Lieutenant Patrick Collins, who oversees the K-9 Unit. He was joined with K-9 handlers Kurt Kroeper, Thomas Duda and Anthony Muscarella, and their dogs Evan, Rocky and Nook respectively.

The first officer to talk after Lt. Collins was Officer Kroeper of narcotics and his dog Evan. The job of a K-9 handler is to guide the dog’s nose to whatever area drugs may be hidden, explained Kroeper.

“I enjoy doing these demonstrations,” he started, “My dog loves doing these demonstrations,” he said, putting emphasis on the word love.

Kroeper hid two drug drops in the room prior to bringing in Evan, who would eventually have an opportunity to display his skills to the students and faculty in attendance. Officer Kroeper hid a small bundle of heroin in the room as well as bag of marijuana.

Evan is a yellow labrador retriever who will turn five this July. He is also “the best looking officer on the force” according to Officer Kroeper. Evan, along with officer Kroeper, had to attend a 13 week K-9 academy as well as an eight hour test once a month every month to assure he is still capable of doing his job. The test consists of five drug hides, two of which are nothing but bundled up towels.

Finally Evan was brought in, but not before Officer Kroeper explained to the crowd that he would appear far from professional when communicating with Evan.

“One of the hardest things that people don’t understand, if I yell at Evan he shuts down. His tail goes down and he walks over to corner,” he explained, “I have to act like an eight -year-old in front of complete strangers to get this dog to work.”

Evan came into the room hyper, fighting to find traction on the tile floor, he immediately ran to a fake tree in the corner where the bundle of heroin was hidden earlier by officer Kroeper. A trash can across the room had marijuana in it which was discovered shortly after the heroin.

Officer Kroeper explained how exactly a narcotics dog works. These drugs aren’t dangerous substances in a dog’s mind. They are just playing things. “If you can walk into someone’s house and they’re cooking bacon, you’ll notice immediately,” he began. “Chances are if you’re with someone you’ll probably even mention that you smell bacon. Marijuana, hash, crack, coke, heroin, ecstasy and meth are bacon to a dog’s nose. He associates those seven smells as his toy, and he wants to play.”

Once his work was done Evan was allowed to walk over to the students and introduce himself. Evan loved the attention. He ran over with his tail wagging and tongue lolling as he was greeted with approval by students in the room. Praises of how cute and adorable he was could be heard as he rolled over onto his back and readily accepted a tummy rub.

Following officer Kroeper was Officer Duda and his German shepard Rocky. Rocky works in the explosive/ bomb unit and also searches for guns, since they fall into the same category.

Officer Duda has been a part of the Sheriff’s department for 24 years and Rocky is his third dog. His first dog was a golden retriever who worked in the drug unit, his second was a black lab who worked in the explosive/bomb unit and lastly is “this nut,” he said motioning to Rocky.

A diffused handle box was left on the ground by Officer Duda before Rocky was brought in. He explained how bomb dogs are taught to sit down immediately next to what they locate and find poses a threat. “If they scratch at a bomb we all go boom,” Officer Duda half joked.

Immediately upon being brought in, Rocky sprinted right to the diffused handle box and sat down, tail wagging. “I could’ve put that in the ceiling and he’d have located it,” said Officer Duda.

“I’d rather work with a dog than a person,” Officer Duda said as Rocky proceeded to rip apart his reward for finding the bomb; a rolled up towel. “He’s just a trouble maker, a terror, but I love him. You can take my wife, but not my dog.”

Officer Duda went on to tell a story that happened 15 years ago about a dog on the force. A man, who was not quite right in the head, was barricaded in the bathroom of his house in Bradley Beach and was refusing to come out. They tried everything; the fire department tried to blast him out with water, they turned off his heat and they turned off his water. Nothing was working. The department decided to send a dog up in an attempt to scare the man out. The dog took a bullet to the chest and was killed.

“That’s why we appreciate that money is being raised to help buy vests for these dogs,” said Officer Duda. “Rocky personally doesn’t need a vest because if something goes wrong for a bomb sniffing dog, chances are a vest isn’t going to make a difference. But the narcotic dogs are going into people’s houses and putting themselves in danger.”

The final officer and dog to demonstrate were Officer Muscarella and his 94 pound German shepard, Nook. Nook, like Rocky, also works in the bomb unit but is also trained in obedience. In addition to the 14 to 16 weeks spent in explosive school, Nook and Officer Muscarella spent 18 weeks in patrol classes for obedience.

“I’m going to show you all how obedient he is and how much smarter he is than Evan,” Officer Muscarella joked, poking fun at Officer Kroeper as he put on the attack suit. Officer Muscarella proceeded to run through a demonstration of what he and Nook go through during the police K-9 obedience competition.

He started walking in a straight line as Nook proudly followed next to him. He began shouting commands such as heel, sit, stay and down in a quick high pitched voice. Nook was quick to respond to each one whether he be commanded to stop dead in his tracks or to run forward to Officer Muscarella as quickly as possible.

“And you hear me fluctuate my voice?” he questioned the crowed. “That’s so he can tell what command it is, if I said every command in the same tone he may get confused,” followed by a drawn out stay and then a high pitched sit, come and heel as Nook sprinted forward and immediately jammed on his breaks.

Officer Kroeper then walked out in a puffy orange suit and face mask. “This thing will prevent me from getting stitches, but it won’t stop me from getting bruises,” he said.

“Get on the ground now, get on the ground!” yelled Officer Muscarella at Officer Kroeper who was pretending to be a criminal. Nook wasted no time rushing in full speed and latching on to Officer Kroepers left arm and pulling him to the ground.

Officer Muscarella said, “Patrol dogs are their own animal, what we say in K-9 is a patrol dog is worth 10 long guns. If we have a swat team with guns aimed at someone that really isn’t doing anything that bad, they know they’re not going to get shot. The dog,” he paused, “The dog they’re not so sure isn’t going to bite them. They play a huge intimidation factor when dealing with criminal situations.”

When Nook isn’t attacking criminals or sniffing out bombs he acts as a regular house pet. Officer Muscarella has a seven-year-old child as well as a seven-month-old and they adore Nook. He referred to it as ‘light-switch syndrome.’ “When he [Nook] is home, he knows he is in his realm and he can shut down, but if someone comes in who is making our family nervous or seems suspicious, he will get bitten.”

Nook has never bitten anyone unintentionally, but Officer Muscarella wasn’t looking to take chances making Nook the one of the three dogs the students did not get to interact with.

“This was the best decision I ever made within law enforcement,” said Officer Muscarella. “He comes to work with me; home with me. He’s my best friend.”

Alpha Phi Sigma plans on making this an annual event. “We wanted to have an event to get our society better known on campus to attract more members and get people interested in a cause that meant something to us, especially in the criminal justice field,” explained Jones.

Jones brought the idea to Dr. Michele Grillo of the Criminal Justice department as well as the honors society and immediately everyone was on board. She then contacted MUPD Chief William McElrath who put her in touch with Lt. Collins of the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit. After planning out the event and determining a location with Student Activities it was just a matter of advertising.

Donating at the door entered students in a raffle to win either a mug or a necklace charm, each with a paw print on it in honor of the cause. The prizes were bought by Dr. Grillo from a website called which also donates a portion of their profits to help feed sheltered animals.

This Wednesday, April 25 at 2:15 pm on the steps of Wilson Hall Alpha Phi Sigma will be holding a formal check presentation with the funds raised for the Monmouth County Sheriff’s K-9 unit.

PHOTO COURTESY of Greg Cenicola