TORRINGTON— Torrington might be used to seeing Police officers riding alone in their fleet of Ford Explorers, but that changed this week for Patrolman Sean Ringrose.
After spending two weeks training together in the heat and humidity of Broussard, La., Ringrose will be joined in his patrol vehicle by Angel, a two-year-old Belgian Malinois. Angel is trained to sniff out a variety of illegal narcotics and will assist the TPD in drug investigations – which Ringrose said will be huge in keeping drugs off the streets.
“I don’t care if you’re in Denver, Los Angeles, New York or Smalltown USA, drugs are everywhere,” Ringrose said. “Over my years, I have seen how they ruin people’s lives and their family’s lives.
“She smells all smells – cigarettes, alcohol, human smells – and she is trained to alert me to illegal narcotics.”
Angel will wear badge No. 108 while she is on the job. According to Ringrose, Angel spent several months training to detect narcotics. During their two weeks together in Louisiana, Ringrose and Angel put in long hours, learning to work together in a variety of situations.
“She had been learning how to sniff for drugs and search for them, then alert the handlers to what she has found,” he said.
“The training started at 8 in the morning and sometimes ran until 5 or 6 in the evening. We were working on searching vehicles, searching rooms and doing specific search patterns to make it easier for the dog to alert us to what she has found.”
Even after all of the training Angel has already completed, Ringrose said he and Angel will be working to sharpen her skills every day. Ringrose uses pseudo narcotics, which give off identical scents to real narcotics, to help Angel hone in on those scents in different circumstances.
“I will do training with her on a daily basis,” he said. “We’ll go to buildings or areas where people aren’t around, so she’s not distracted by other people or animals. Some places we’ll go to are called ‘cold places,’ where we won’t hide any narcotics.”
Adding a canine officer to the TPD has forced Ringrose to make some changes in his daily routine, like having a specialized dog box installed in his patrol vehicle before he left for Louisiana. The biggest change, however, has been a new addition to his family outside of work.
“She comes home with me and lives with me every day,” he said. “She got introduced to my family yesterday and it went great. It went off without a hitch. She was a part of the family from day one.
“My boy, when I was down in training, he was taking our other dog around and hiding food to teach him how to be a search dog.”
Angel has been a hit with Ringrose’s family and fits right in, but Ringrose said citizens should be cautious around a police dog and never approach Angel when she is working.
“She is friendly, sweet dog – we just never want to take that chance,” he said.
“Even with the general public, you should never, ever approach anybody’s dog without asking permission first. You never know. There are several different types of drives that will trigger things. When Angel is looking for narcotics or when any police dog may be looking for a bad guy, they are in what is called ‘prey drive.’ They are looking for that object. Another drive is called ‘civil.’ Any person walking down the street has had a dog run up to a fence and bark at them. That is a dog who is protecting its property out of fear or it could be anger.
“You never want to go up and touch or pet anybody’s animal without asking permission.”
The best way to meet Angel, Ringrose said, would be to meet on her turf at the police station.
“By all means, if anybody would like to come up and meet Angel, get ahold of me through the police department here and we can set up that meeting,” he said.