INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Every second matters during the threat of an explosive device. IUPUI officials decided they needed a specialized officer to protect the campus in case of an emergency.
Indy, a pup named after the city he’ll protect, is the newest addition to the Indiana University Police Department at IUPUI. Although he looks like your typical 9-month-old puppy, he has many new responsibilities.
“He’s pretty much the perfect dog. He’s cute, he’s soft, he’s cuddly,” said Officer Robert Botts, Indy's handler.
Botts said Indy he knows when play time is over. The pup has been busy training since he joined the department in December.
“Since he got here, I’ve met more people than the previous 18 years I’ve worked here pretty much,” joked Botts. “No one wants to see me. They’re all here to see the dog.”
Indy’s not searching for narcotics or focused on apprehending suspects. Right now, he’s training to search for explosives.
“He knows the odors very well,” said Botts. “Once we enter an area he’s typically in the odor so fast he won’t search the rest of the building. He just runs to the odor, which is not a bad problem.”
Indy can sniff out the smell of an explosive in minutes. Over the past few months, Botts has trained him on other skills he’ll need.
“Search vehicles, buildings, open areas, we’re also training him on how to do firearm evidence recovery," Botts said. "So, shell casings, firearms, magazines and that comes in handy from time to time here in the city of Indianapolis, unfortunately.”
With the high number of major events happening downtown, Deputy Chief Bill Abston said Indy’s skills are needed more than ever.
“A lot of times we’ve asked other departments to help us with the K9 sweeps for Race for the Cure, Mini-Marathon and those types of things,” said Abston. “Well, now we have a resource we can use.”
Indy’s expertise will focus on unattended packages. Once something is labeled a suspicious package, he’s off the job, and bomb squads are called in. Back in November, before Indy was on the force, IUPUI police responded to a suspicious package near Eskenazi Hospital. Thankfully, nothing happened from the incident, but Indy wouldn't have been sent.
“We’re not going to deploy a dog on that. There’s too much invested in him, the training, me. After that incident we got a lot of calls on unattended packages. Coolers, backpacks,” said Botts. “His job is to sweep, make sure there’s nothing there. He’s very preventative. He’s not a response, he’s more of a prevention.”
For now, Indy is committed daily to his training. And maybe the treats help a little bit, too.
To help pay for training for Indy several groups came together. IU Athletics contributed $15,000, while Rico Elmore with Fatheadz Eyewear and Joe Robinson with ESG security gave $5,000 each.
Indy will get his certification in October. You can follow along with Indy’s journey by following is Instagram account @IUPDK9INDY.