The Secaucus Police Department has created a Therapy Dog Program to enhance community relations with police. The program will assist the public, first responders, and the SPD cope with traumatic events.
Police Officer Taylor Ensmann sparked the idea early in Chief Dennis Miller’s tenure.
“When I was sworn in as Chief of Police, I vowed to enhance community relations, and I hold true to that vow,” Miller said. “The Therapy Dog Program is an additional tool that will be utilized for community outreach and engagement, thereby bringing the Secaucus Police Department closer to the community it serves.”
First program in NJ
Therapy dog programs exist in other states, like California, Ohio, and Massachusetts. But there are no known police departments in New Jersey that employ therapy dogs. A therapy dog will provide affection, comfort, and support to those suffering from the effects of trauma, mental health issues, and criminal acts.
“Adding a canine to our force is something I have dreamed about for a long time,” Mayor Michael J. Gonnelli said. “Oakley is a wonderful addition to the department’s community policing efforts. Make sure you say hello when you see him!”
Oakley, a golden retriever, is owned by Officer Ensmann but is a certified “therapy dog.” Oakley is trained to provide support to people, often in settings such as hospitals, nursing homes, schools, libraries, or disaster areas.
Oakley will accompany Ensmann during his normal patrol duties and will be used at public events, such as street fairs, concerts, and on the newly implemented “park and walk” detail.
Oakley will provide emotional support when following up with victims of traumatic situations, such as domestic violence, house fires, or witnessing a violent crime, especially a child witness.
Ensmann and Oakley will visit local senior citizen housing facilities and the VA Clinic on Meadowlands Parkway. He will also provide comfort and affection when family members are grieving over the death of a close family member.
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