KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) - The University of Tennessee Police Department is adding to the force with two more four-legged officers.
Bruno is the newest addition to the department, along with Athena, who was recently "hired" in January. They will now join Bira and Tica as the department doubles it's K9 officer presence on campus.
"Really it just has a lot to do with the number of special events, obviously Neyland Stadium and Thompson Boling Arena are large venues," said UT Police Chief Troy Lane. "We could always use the extra help."
On average, the UT Police Department's K9 officers work a minimum 40 hours per week plus overtime, just as their handlers. When you factor in football season right around the corner, just one game adds 26 hours of overtime for these four-legged officers.
"I think it's absolutely awesome because of our workload," says Cpl. Mary Cameron with UTPD. "All of the buildings we have on campus, all of the events and venues we take care of, we need them."
Bruno is the first male K9 officer at UTPD and unlike his furry female coworkers, he's the only one who specializes in drug and criminal apprehension.
"When we see the occasional armed robbery or aggravated burglary it tends to be drug related so it seemed to me that in order curb that or at least better respond to that it would be advantageous to have a drug dog," said Chief Lane.
When presented with a drug detection apprehension task, Bruno is led to sniff a perimeter. Anywhere the odor of narcotics can escape, will be picked up by Bruno. If he detects Meth, Cocaine, Heroin or Marijuana you'll see a change in Bruno's posture, his tongue will come in and his breathing will intensify. Tica works almost the same, only she's sniffing for bomb making materials.
"She is sniffing for any combination of materials whether it is a single item or a combination," says Cameron. "It's not one in specific, it is several."
All of UTPD's K9 officers came from overseas, where they were initially trained and then brought to another training facility in Kansas. The department's bomb detection dogs cost around $8,500 where as their drug detection and apprehension dogs, like Bruno, cost more than $12,000.
As each K9 officer retires, Chief Lane says it is department policy to give their handlers first pick at adopting them.