Tauranga police dog Turk and his handler, Senior Constable Derek Orchard, won this year's national police patrol team championships and are winners of the Frank Riley Cup. Both have years of experience in the force but have only been working together as a team for 12 months.
1 How old is Turk and how long has he been a police dog?
He will be 7 at the end of the month, and has been a working as police dog for five years.
2 Can you tell us about his background before joining the force?
Turk was specially bred to become a police dog at our breeding centre in Trentham, and came to Tauranga as a 3-month old puppy. He was initially put into foster care with a Tauranga family, before beginning his training. He was supposed to be my dog but, one of the other handlers, Logan Marsh's police dog died suddenly so Turk went to him. My other dog Vadim was injured last year and unfortunately had to be euthanased.
3 What makes Turk such a special police dog?
His trainability and willingness to please, and his overall skills. Turk was bred to be a police dog and he's a natural, particularly his tracking and apprehension skills.
4 Why do you think you and Turk took out the national title?
Just our consistent achievement scores in all the competition exercises; which included tracking, searching for property, searching for offenders, lifesaving skills and overall teams skills.
5 What makes you both such a special crime-fighting team?
I think it's Turk's personality. He is very easy to handle and all he wants to do is catch the bad guys, and that is exactly what I want to do. We're experienced and work well as a team.
6 Tell us about a couple of the top crimes Turk has helped solve.
My first tracking operation with him involved us tracking a serious violent offender through rural residential properties in Katikati, which went on for over an hour. It was a domestic incident involving the theft of a motor vehicle and, with Turk's help, the offender was caught and put before the courts. Turk was also involved in catching a recidivist offender wanted on warrants who fled and had to be tracked through numerous properties including through Bureta Shopping Centre and, with his help, the offender was located hiding in a garage after he had barricaded himself in.
7 Has Turk ever been seriously injured on duty, and if so how?
Not seriously, but a few years ago he contracted a rare life-threatening illness which required him to be injected with medications three times a day. His former handler, Logan Marsh, did an outstanding job in caring for him. Turk wasn't expected to survive, but amazingly he recovered. He is an amazing dog.
8 How valuable is the role of a police dog in crime fighting?
Police dogs are involved in all aspects of crime prevention and crime reduction, as well as tracking and apprehending offenders. Their role is hugely invaluable in all aspects of policing, including keeping the public safe. Turk can use his nose to detect offenders when I certainly can't. He will run in when normally you should be running away.
9 Tell us about the variety of roles police dogs fulfil.
All police dogs are pretty much able to multi-task, depending on their temperament. Turk does specialise in apprehending and detecting offenders, but he is also used when there are serious armed offender incidents, as well as drug-related and search and rescue incidents.
1 0 Does Turk come home with you when not on duty, and what special treats does he enjoy?
Yes, he does. Turk just loves attention and loves nothing better than hanging out with me and my family. I do buy him the odd cannon bone, and he loves lying out in the sun on the grass chomping on it.