Meet Brody, the Lyndhurst PD’s new K-9 officer

If you’ve been in Lyndhurst lately, you may have noticed the police department has a new cop. He’s called Brody. Just Brody. No last name. Not because he’s trying to be like some celebrities like Madonna or Cher or Prince who drop their surname, either. It’s because Brody is a beautiful, obedient 2-year-old black German Shepherd who recently joined the force along with his partner, Police Officer Michael Walker.

Last week, we had a chance to meet Brody and sit down with Walker, Chief Richard L. Jarvis Jr., Mayor Robert B. Giangeruso and the Lyndhurst PD’s Public Information Officer Det. Lt. Vincent Auteri. It was nothing short of extraordinary, what we learned, to say the least.

Brody is one of only a handful of municipal police dogs, trained only on scent-detection — and not to bite the bad guys who won’t surrender when police tell them to.

What was most noticeable about Brody, from the moment he entered the chief’s office on the second floor of police headquarters, was how incredibly well behaved he was. He’s gotten that way after extensive training in multiple locations in the area after he was purchased by at Connecticut Canine Services, a breeder in Connecticut. (That training lasts about three months. And then tracking is an additional six to eight weeks.)

Brody was born in Slovakia, but he came here not too long after he came into the world. And he was chosen from a lot of almost 10 canines after consultation with trainers, Walker and Jarvis — all with Giangeruso’s blessing.

Now, before we tell you about Brody and his role, it’s important to note he didn’t cost the township a penny of taxpayer money. In fact, he was paid for, as was his extensive training, by cash forfeited by criminals in Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) cases.

And, his food — he’s going to need a lot of it as a growing, already 60-pound pup — is also being paid for, fully, by a major pet-food retailer (they asked not to be named though, understandably.)

“We are thrilled we were able to do this at no cost to the taxpayers, all the way around,” Giangeruso said, echoed by Jarvis.

Now that we’ve gotten that part out of the way, throughout the hour or so we spent with Brody, he sat at Walker’s side, rarely moving. Walker says he always had and loved dogs and wanted to be one of the few police K-9 handlers in Bergen County. He brought the idea to the chief, who brought it to the mayor.

“We always had a dog in the house and it always intrigued me on what these dogs can do,” Walker said. “I’ve always had a house pet who could sit, stay, do that — but the way these dogs operate though he’s a German Shepherd, he’s a working-line and when we put him to work, the way he changes is just unbelievable and the thing he can do … amazing.”

What he does do is track the scent of several common drugs police often need to find at crime scenes, after warrants are served and the like. When a human takes off running, Walker says thousands of particles fall to the ground. All he has to do is point to the starting point, and Brody will be able to determine the scent he needs to follow.

“Then I tell him to track and he just follows,” Walker said.

Brody’s tracking success rate?

An unfathomable 98%


Brody’s first successful find

A couple of weeks ago, during a strict-liability, drug-related case, police obtained a search warrant for a suspect’s home. Once there, the evidence pointed to a storage locker that would need to be searched, a warrant for which was also obtained.

Detectives working that case called upon an on-duty Walker and Brody for an open-air sniff of the storage locker. After Walker arrived and gave his command to Brody — which in this case was “find/fetch” — he then Walker pointed to items toward the bottom and mid-point in the locker.

Walker then noticed a large gap at the top of the locker, Brody sniffed up there — and then he sat down. That sit-down was a sign he smelled the target scent.

Along the top of the gap?

Suspected crack-cocaine and heroin, precisely what the detectives were looking for.

Brody’s win was a victory for himself, the detectives, Walker and the entire department — and the evidence will now be available for trial.

“Him sitting down is his way of saying, ‘Dad, I found what you wanted,’” Walker said.

Brody is certified to detect five potent, illegal substances: cocaine, crack-cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and methamphetamines. He is not, however, certified on sniffing for fentanyl, since that drug is so heavily concentrated that only a scintilla of it could be enough to take Brody or any human out.

And because of this awful reality, naloxone (Narcan) is readily available for Brody in case, God forbid, he ever ingests it in too high a quantity. There’s also a special oxygen mask that may be deployed on his nose to help if needed, also.

Now, while Walker gives commands to Brody to begin his work, if he happens to be out and about and he sits down without prompting, it could mean he’s positively ID’d a substance on a nearby person or on some close object. So it is very possible he could score a find even if he isn’t on duty or told to go to work.

Meanwhile, once Brody is put to work, he is rewarded after a successful find.

“His reward is a (special) ball,” Walker said. “Then I play with him — and that’s it.”

The partners work regular 12-hour shifts, sometimes on the day shift, sometimes at night. For the Lyndhurst PD, both are now on-call 24-7; if an outside agency calls for mutual aid — it’s already happened with nearby Rutherford for a case — Brody and Walker will take the calls but only if they’re already on duty; otherwise, those departments will have to look elsewhere.

When the duo aren’t working, Brody comes home to Walker’s place — where he lives with his wife, who is expecting her first child. Sometimes, he’s inside the house, but there’s a special, heated outdoor kennel for him too.

And speaking of kennels, a Lyndhurst PD vehicle — a Ford Explorer — was recently retrofitted for Brody (you can see that in one of the included photos.)

In all, Brody is a great boy — and he’s a true asset to the department and the Walker family. And it’s another example of where the Lyndhurst PD excels and stands out.

“We continue to be a very progressive department,” Auteri said. “This is just one of the many ways we do so.”



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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.