Mercyhurst University Police and Safety recently acquired a bomb sniffing dog as a utility to the campus and the region.
The Belgian Malinois, trained to detect explosives, is named Rico.
When asked how Mercyhurst is funding the purchase and upkeep for Rico, Chief of Police Robert Kuhn replied, “We have been requesting the state for the funds to acquire a dog like for Rico for about a year now. Thanks to cooperation from state Sen. Sean Wiley we were able to secure $13,000 to get Rico and his accompanying police van. Erie Insurance has also made donations to pay for his general upkeep including food and veterinary costs.”
In addition to being trained to sniff out explosives, Rico can also track firearms and humans. Rico is one of very few such trained dogs in the Erie region, so his presence is a valuable asset to both the university and to the city,” Kuhn said.
President Tom Gamble, Ph.D., also saw the serious benefits of Rico to the University.
“Mercyhurst is a repository of law enforcement training, from our Public Safety Institute to our Municipal Police Training Academy to our intelligence studies, forensics and criminal justice programs, so this is a natural for us,” Gamble said.
“While the canine unit may afford a marginal increase in safety for our students, we see the dog as a community resource that further enhances the strong relationship between Mercyhurst University and the regional public safety system.”
Newly trained Officer Brandon Miller will be taking Rico on patrols and on call-ins, if the occasion occurs.
When asked how Rico might be used on campus Kuhn said, “Police dogs on college campuses are valuable whenever it comes time to host an event that draws a crowd. These could include sports events or even visiting speakers. We don’t anticipate any of these events being dangerous, but if requested Rico and Brandon, they can be there as a safety.”
The college is willing to lend Rico to other departments around the city as he is needed.
While Mercyhurst hasn’t experienced a bomb threat, the presence of Rico will make the Mercyhurst campus a significantly safer place.
The University of Pittsburgh experienced a series of bomb threats and forced evacuations last year and a dog like Rico will help discourage that kind of activity on campus.