A new canine unit has been donated to the Lehigh University Police Department for added security on campus.
LUcy, a Belgian Malinois, is LUPD’s first canine unit. LUcy was named after one of Asa Packer’s children after a suggestion from one of the officers.
LUcy is in an eight-week training period and will be certified in bomb detection, chemical detection and tracking upon completion. LUPD Chief Edward Shupp said she will only investigate dorm rooms if there is a need to check for chemicals or bombs.
Shupp said LUcy is learning the skills quickly in the program. Officer Gregory Norf has administered LUcy’s training and will continue to work alongside her.
“She’s part of the family now,” Shupp said. “She lives with (Norf) and his wife, so it has to be a bonding experience for everybody.”
LUcy was donated by Missy Robbins of Saucon Valley. Under normal circumstances, a canine unit would cost approximately $20,000 after training and other amenities.
Shupp said Robbins loves dogs and knows how important the canine unit can be. He said Robbins is an advocate for safety and thought a dog would be a good fit for LUPD. She had previously donated a dog to the Bethlehem City Police Department.
Shupp said LUPD did not have a dog in the past because there wasn’t a need for one, but a canine unit could now help increase safety.
“We’re always looking for ways to enhance safety, and if expansion with another animal is the way to do it, then it’s a possibility,” Shupp said.
Matt Kuehnle, ‘20, said he thinks LUcy is a great addition and hopes to see more dogs specialized in different areas join LUPD. He said more people should sponsor resources for the LUPD so it can do the best work possible.
“If they find this to be a successful method of identifying threats, then I would love to see more in the future,” Kuehnle said.
Stephanie Pugh, ’19, said while she thinks it’s not essential to have a canine unit, it is always good to find new ways of protection so students can feel safer on campus.
“It shows that they are doing their job and not only care about the safety of students but want to put student safety first,” Pugh said.
Pugh, who is a Gryphon in Brodhead House, thinks a dog that can smell drugs would be helpful for her and her fellow Gryphons.
“In circumstances where I might get a complaint on excessive amount of weed in a hallway, it is part of a Gryphon’s job before they call the police to pinpoint the part of a hallway or room that you think has substances,” Pugh said. “It would definitely be helpful for a dog to sniff drugs because if I’m wrong and it’s my mistake, I will feel bad.”
She said this can be difficult in dorm scenarios because rooms are close together. A dog would be helpful in this case and would assist Gryphons while working with police.
While Lehigh’s first canine unit comes in 2017, universities like Cornell have a handful of dogs specialized in different areas.
Cornell’s canine unit began in 2000 and now has four dogs. According to Cornell’s police website, “The K9s are a great asset to the Cornell Police due in part to their ability to detect scent 800 times than a human.”
Any police department in the five-county area surrounding Lehigh that needs to track bombs or chemicals can use LUcy. Shupp said LUPD is excited for LUcy to finish training so she can begin working on campus.