Canine crime fighter sworn in

Pam Monson
“He did very well ... he’s a fast learner.” — Chief Phil Arnold, Wilmington Police Department

Drug-sniffing canine a fast learner, completes training early

    One of outgoing Mayor Marty Orr’s last privileges in office was administering the oath of office to the Wilmington Police Department’s floppy-eared crime fighter, Mao, the drug-sniffing canine.
    Donations from Will County State’s Attorney Jim Glasgow, local businesses, organizations and individuals made it possible for the police department to reinstate its canine unit. Mao completed his training at Shallow Creek Kennels in Pennsylvania on April 13, a week early.
    “He did very well ... he’s a fast learner,” commented Phil Arnold, chief of police.
    Mao, pronounced “May-o,” is a German shorthair pointer. His main purpose will be to find narcotics. He will not be trained for a second purpose, because the department wants narcotics detection to be the thing he does best. He was taught to find marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and crack cocaine.
    Chief Arnold wanted Mao to have a skill typically taught to explosives detection dogs, the ability to find a hint of a scent on the open air and follow it back to its source. Shallow Creek agreed to deliver it in a narcotics detection training package. The German shorthair is the perfect breed for this kind of work, the chief said.
    Officer Kris Hopper will be Mao’s handler. He started working with the dog March 20.
    Chief Arnold’s squad car was put back into rotation as the canine vehicle, and is scheduled to be wrapped as a black-and-white at the end of the month. Arnold is now driving an administrative vehicle, without all the equipment needed if it were being used as a patrol car.
    Mao was sworn in during the council’s regular meeting on Tuesday, April 19. Officer Hopper was expected to complete his certification on Wednesday. The crime-fighting duo’s first tour of duty will be Thursday.
    Mao will live with Hopper, and the team will train every other week. The canine unit will work a rotating shift. When officers Hopper and Mao are not on duty, the department will obtain assistance from other active-duty units in the area