SANTA CRUZ — Three new K-9s were sworn into duty March 12 at the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office.
Before a crowd of about 70 people, the three dogs were led by their handlers into the Sheriff’s Office Community Room to be sworn in and to receive their new badges.
“We’ve used this room to swear in 10 deputies and we didn’t get this kind of turn out,” Sheriff Jim Hart said. “It’s taken a lot to get this program built up. I know that our staff and myself are looking forward to the help these dogs can provide.”
At the center of attention were Deputy Emma Ramponi with K-9 Colt, Deputy Alex Spencer with K-9 Murph and Sgt. Nick Baldrige with K-9 Lola.
Colt has been trained to specialize in patrol apprehension and narcotics. Murph will specialize in patrol apprehension and explosive location, while Lola has been trained to locate narcotics and will be trained in search and rescue.
Hart said each dog costs about $10,000, plus additional costs for each deputy to train with their individual dogs.
“I feel we have a real good team and a good program,” Hart said. “I took the program in part after both of our dogs were injured. It takes a lot of time, money and personnel in order to get a program like this running. When those two animals were injured I thought it was a good opportunity to really look at policy and procedure. It has taken about a year and a half to get this going to make this a safe program.”
Baldrige said he was excited about the program.
“Having a good cohesive team like this is so valuable,” he said. “Lola (who is a Labrador) loves people and she loves to interact with people; that’s why she is not trained in apprehension.”