Detroit Public Schools officers named K-9 team of the year

Detroit Public Schools Police Department officers John Greene and Nitro have been named Police K-9 Team of the Year by Police K-9 Magazine.

The March issue will feature Greene and Nitro, a 5-year-old black and tan Slovak German Shepherd. The narcotic patrol team was honored for their 510 canine uses in 2009, which is considered an extremely high number of uses. Those included 314 building searches, in which he apprehended suspects 65 times. The team had about 90 arrests in 2009.

“During my career I have not seen another team able to match the canine uses and success that John and Nitro have displayed,” Terry Foley, owner of K9 Academy Training Facility, said in his nomination letter.

In one incident last September, Nitro sniffed out three men who broke into an elementary school. Officers on the scene had been trying for an extended period of time to find them and couldn’t. Nitro found the suspects in a cubby hole and they immediately surrendered.

Greene is a veteran police officer who has been with the Detroit Public Schools Police Department for 4.5 years and previously worked at the Detroit Police Department.

“Being a K-9 officer has always been a lifelong dream of mine,” said Greene whose father and three older brothers are in law enforcement – though none of them K-9 officers. “I’ve always been a dog person. It combines the best of both worlds: Being a police officer and working with dogs.”

Nitro was imported from Germany in December 2005 and joined the police department in November 2006. At the time he was “a green dog,” meaning he had no police training. Greene and Nitro trained for three months at the K9 Academy Training Facility (K9 ATF) in Wayne, Mich. Since then, Nitro has been certified as a police dog through K9 ATF and the National Association of Professional Canine Handlers. He is certified in narcotics, tracking, building search, evidence search, area search, obedience and handler protection.

Nitro undergoes continuing training to keep his skills sharp, Greene said.

The Wyandotte resident grew up with dogs, including beagles and a yellow lab, and said being a K-9 handler is a round-the clock job, but one he wouldn’t trade.

“We work together and he comes home with me. He sleeps at the end of my bed every night. He’s a big baby,” Greene said.

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