Anne Arundel swears in its first canine deputy German shepherd draws courthouse security duty

November 19, 1995|By TaNoah V. Sterling | TaNoah V. Sterling,SUN STAFF

With the shake of a paw and a red print in the oath book, 5-year-old Roy the German shepherd became the first deputized dog in Anne Arundel County history.

The bomb-sniffing, gun-sniffing, drug-sniffing dog and his partner, Freddie Charles, joined the Sheriff's Department yesterday as part of a detail that will make sweeps of the courthouse each day and check judges' cars and vehicles parked near the courthouse for bombs. They come from the Baltimore Police Department, where Mr. Charles was a 21-year veteran and Roy had been on the streets for four years.

In Maryland, six jurisdictions have both a sheriff's department and police force. With the addition of Roy, the Anne Arundel department became the fifth of the six to get a bomb-detecting dog. Sheriff's departments in Baltimore, Howard, Prince George's and Montgomery counties have bomb dogs, but Roy is the only one who also sniffs out guns and drugs.

"We have three to four incidents a year where we have bomb threats by telephone or locate an object," said Capt. Edward Niedzielski, who heads courthouse security. "Of course the fear is that that's going to increase. "

Circuit Judge Robert H. Heller Jr. told the audience of about 15 at a ceremony Friday he was pleased security was being increased.

"We have certainly had enough occasions when Fred and Roy would have been put to good use," he said.

Last month, Circuit Judge James C. Cawood Jr. found what he thought was a bomb in his chambers. Even bomb experts were fooled by the look-alike device, and police closed the courthouse for more than two hours while they waited for a bomb dog from Harford County.

"Normally we have a wait from 1 1/2 to two hours, but now we have our own [dog]," said Captain Niedzielski. The Sheriff's Department has agreed to let Roy and Mr. Charles help other area agencies when needed, he said, adding, "This is a help to everyone."

Roy and Mr. Charles are the second part of new, increased security measures for the courthouse, Sheriff George F. Johnson IV said. His office recently acquired a $57,000 X-ray machine that gives officers a better look inside bags carried into the courthouse and expects to get a second X-ray machine in May 1999, after the courthouse is renovated and expanded.

Robert P. Duckworth, the clerk of court, administered the oath of office to Roy and Mr. Charles and Sheriff Johnson gave each a shiny gold sheriff's star.

After Mr. Duckworth shook Mr. Charles' hand and had him sign the oath book, someone brought a red ink pad and Mr. Charles helped the 80-pound dog ink his right front paw and stamp his print in the book next to Mr. Charles' signature.

Roy knocked over the Maryland flag after he finished signing.

"He thinks he's in here to do a search," said Mr. Charles as Roy continued to sniff out people in the room. "After a day or two he'll relax and say 'OK, this is my home.' "

Roy quickly began to make friends. Adam Gajewski, 7, of Glen Burnie ran over to Mr. Charles and Roy as they stood outside the courtroom door and asked if he could pet the canine deputy.

"I thought he was nice because he licked me," Adam said.

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