Montrose, CO — The Montrose Police Department has welcomed a new facility dog named "Apple" to its ranks to assist officers who might experience anxiety from daily police work and provide a calming environment for victims of crime.
In early January, the Police Department was awarded a $2,500 grant from Montrose Walmart to help acquire the dog. The Police Department received the dog from Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), a volunteer program that breeds, raises, and trains dogs as service animals then places them free-of-charge with individuals or organizations.
Montrose Police Department Victim Advocate Chantelle Bainbridge, the dog’s handler, worked with Apple at a training center in California in February before bringing the dog to Montrose to begin a trial period before Apple was certified and ready to begin work.
Bainbridge said the animal will be at the Police Department each day to help create a calming environment when victims of crime are brought in for interviewing.
Bainbridge said victims of crime who proceed through the criminal justice system can often experience additional trauma and re-victimization, regardless of how hard criminal justice professionals work to be gentle and empathetic.
The department’s first goal is to use Apple to reduce the fears and anxiety of crime victims during the criminal justice process. The second goal is to create a welcoming and approachable environment where crime victims feel safe and comfortable coming into the Police Department to seek assistance and when returning for additional victim advocacy and help through their healing process. The third goal is to use Apple to provide additional support to victims of child abuse and/or child sexual abuse to help calm their nerves and reduce their fears during the judicial process, according to Bainbridge.
“Apple is a very important piece in caring for the crime victims in our community as well as our staff and within a short amount of time has proven to have a positive impact on both,” Bainbridge said.
The use of facility dogs is also becoming more common within police departments for use in peer support programs for police officers to help reduce stress from the daily rigors of police work.
"Studies have shown that PTSD for police officers is five times higher than the civilian population due to exposure to trauma and shootings,” Bainbridge said. “We often forget to take care of those who take care of everyone else and suffer from the trauma of others."
The dog returns home with Bainbridge at the end of each shift.
"Apple is an awesome addition to our police department because it’s going to provide another layer of support that we can offer to the victims of crime in our community,” Montrose Police Chief Blaine Hall said. “I think that it will eventually expand, hopefully into the realm of helping victims testify in court and internally within our own agency. We will be using Apple for our peer support program for our officers. She’s a great addition and we are really thankful that we have her.”
The Montrose Police Department would like to thank Tim and Krista Bush with Chow Down Pet Supplies and Dr. Jake Rehard with Black Canyon Veterinary Clinic who have stepped up to sponsor the dog with essentials and care.
Bainbridge said she thanks the Montrose community for its support with phone calls and donations to the department in the short time Apple has been on staff.
For other city news visit: CityofMontrose.org.