From the Files of the Rochester Historical Society

Over the last few years, the morning news has showcased stories about dogs and police departments. Sometimes the stories are sad reporting the death of a police canine due to age or illness or in the line of duty. Many of the other stories are about new recruits, puppies or young dogs who are being trained as K-9 officers or comfort dogs.

            These stories reminded me that in our files are stories about three canine recruits to the RPD. The first is dated 1984 when Extra, a 14-month-old German Shepherd, was donated to the Rochester Police Dept. A newly appointed police officer partnered up with him and the two would undergo a 10-week training course at the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Office Canine School.

            An interesting aspect of researching stories with our donated news clippings is that finding the entire story can be elusive. The next canine story that I found didn’t reference either Extra or Officer McGrath. The story from 1987 is about Baron and his partner, Police Sgt. Michael Cormier. The article had more context saying that Baron “recovered a missing Rochester boy, a hit and run driver at a Rochester campground and a hiding car vandal in Acushnet”.

            These two articles make the ones that first caught my eye perplexing. Once again, a Rochester Police Dept. officer was paired with a K-9 partner. Detective Torres and an 8 year-old German Shepherd, Coty, came together after the dog was donated by a Cape Cod man. Coty had already undergone six months of training in Hyannis. Torres took the dog to Vaughn Reagan’s K-9 Academy in Lakeville.

            Both the dog’s training and his canine cruiser were paid for by the police association. A canine cruiser must have accommodations. The police association reconditioned an older car adding a special seat, a wooden floor and bars on all the windows. The car must have ventilation and maintain a certain temperature, as well as have food and water.

            Even though this wasn’t Rochester’s first K-9 officer, the selectmen had concerns about both the dog’s training and insurance for both the car and the dog. The question of who would pay for the car’s gas also came up. Chief Denham championed both the dog and the car. He detailed an assist Coty gave him in making an arrest of two men charged for breaking and entering.

            After all the controversy and newspaper articles, the problems must have been solved as Coty served Rochester for two years from 1990-1992. In 1992, both Detective Torres and Coty retired.

By Connie Eshbach

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