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Southampton Village police reactivate long-dormant K-9 unit with addition of Topper

Southampton Village Police Officer James Moore, 34, runs

Southampton Village Police Officer James Moore, 34, runs through some training drills on Saturday with his canine partner, Topper, a male German shepherd/Belgian Malinois mix. Credit: Randee Daddona

The Southampton Village Police Department has reactivated its K-9 unit after almost a decade, and expects its newest member to help the force with narcotics retrievals and other vital police work.

Officer James Moore, 34, of Southampton, has been undergoing a 16-week training course at Suffolk County Police Headquarters in Yaphank with his new partner, Topper, a male German shepherd/Belgian Malinois mix that was bred in the Czech Republic.

The department's canine unit was deactivated in 2010 after its previous K-9 officer, a German shepherd named Spirit, died from post-surgery complications, and funding for the program was discontinued soon after. Last year, Mayor Michael Irving and Police Chief Thomas Cummings began talking about reviving the unit.

Moore — who said he loves animals but had never worked with dogs in a professional capacity — said that after he heard in June that the department would interview members to join the unit, he welcomed the opportunity.

“I’ve always been interested in it [a K-9 unit],” Moore said Friday. “I was surprised that they were bringing [the unit] back, so I saw it was my opportunity and I jumped on it.”

Topper and Moore expect by February to be able to do patrols together after the first part of their training is complete. Once they finish certification courses in tracking, narcotics retrieval, evidence recovery and apprehension, Moore said Topper will be able to assist the department with traffic stops, retrieving narcotics and searching for missing children and adults, or suspects.

Topper and Moore have done agility drills, obedience training and drills designed to sharpen Topper’s apprehension skills. While the pair have only trained together two weeks, Moore said he and his new partner have already hit it off.

“Every dog has been amazing so far, but Topper and I in the first two weeks have created a great bond already," Moore said. "I have no complaints. In the first three weeks, I’ve been thoroughly impressed as to how quickly these dogs learn things. It’s dramatic in terms of how fast they can pick stuff up.”  

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