Cape May Court House – Cape May County Sheriff Gary Schaffer announced that Officers Beth Perednas and Nolan Harris have graduated from the New Jersey State Police K-9 Academy on July 7, 2011. The ceremony was held at the New Jersey Police Training Academy in Sea Girt, New Jersey.
Officer Beth Perednas and her partner “Jax” completed both the eighteen-week patrol dog training class and the twelve-week narcotic scent detection class. Officer Nolan Harris and his partner “Axel” completed the fourteen-week explosive detection class and are scheduled to attend the patrol dog class. Both K-9 dogs are Belgian Malinois.
The Belgian Malinois is also used extensively by Unit Oketz of the Israel Defense Forces. Malinois are the perfect size to be picked up by their handlers, while still being able to attack their targets and for their shorter coats and fair and neutral colors making them less prone to heatstroke, all these are advantages over the previously used dog breeds.
Sheriff Schaffer said, “I am extremely proud of both of these officers. It takes special commitment and dedication to be a successful K-9 Officer. It is a 24/7 responsibility not only to your job but to your K-9 partner. Each officer must continue to maintain exceptional physical conditioning and be devoted to constant training requirements to maintain their certification. These are two exceptional officers.”
“Our agency applied for and was awarded a $50,000 grant from the New Jersey Detect and Render Safe Task force to train a K-9 handler for explosives. The grant paid for the training, the K-9 and the vehicle. Officer Harris is now a member of the State Task Force and has the elite training that goes with it. This program was a great opportunity to get a fully funded K-9 Unit at no cost to our local taxpayer,” added Sheriff Schaffer.
The 18-week patrol training class focuses on instructing the canines to assist their handlers in apprehending criminal suspects, explosives detection, scent tracking, article and suspect searches and search/rescue operations. During the scent-training course, the canines are taught to detect various types of explosive components as well as narcotics; including cocaine, crack, heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana and hashish.
The extensive training program focuses on establishing a strong bond between the handler and the canine. Canines selected for the program must be willing workers with a great play drive and a good temperament. Patience and understanding are primary requisites for the handler, as canine performance is dependent on such traits.
Officer Beth Perednas has been a Sheriff’s Officer since January 2003. She served 4 years with the 82nd Airborne Division. She received the US Army Service Ribbon, Parachutist Ribbon, Expert Qualification Badge and Marksman Qualification Badge with the M-4 rifle. In 2002 she received the Governor’s Award for workplace safety. She is currently a certified physical fitness instructor and drill instructor at the Cape May County Police Academy and was appointed to the K-9 Unit in October 2010. Effective July 15, 2011 Officer Perednas will be promoted to the rank of Sergeant and assume command of the K-9 Unit, replacing Corporal Stephen Carty who is retiring.
Officer Nolan Harris has been a Sheriff’s Officer since April 2007. He has worked for the Court Security Unit, the Transportation Unit and the Field Support Units of the Law Enforcement Division of the Sheriff’s Office. He has his Associate Degree in Law Enforcement and is an Active Member of the NJ National Guard 50th Brigade Combat Team and served in Iraq for one year from 2008-2009. He has been a member of the K-9 Unit since March 2011.
“Since becoming Sheriff my goal was to reorganize the K-9 Unit and to cross train our dogs for criminal apprehension, search and scent detection. I wanted to reduce the number of single use K-9 dogs to have multiple use dogs. The implementation of multiple use dogs has allowed the unit to be reduced from 13 dogs to 9 dogs; while at the same time continue to provide immediate response for apprehension, drug detection, accelerant detection, explosives detections and blood hounds used for man tracking. This is more cost efficient use of officers and dogs as well as saving on food bills, training costs and veterinarian costs; while still having the best trained dogs available to serve Cape May County,” concluded Sheriff Schaffer.
Last year, the Sheriff’s K-9 Unit received 888 hours of mandatory K-9 certification training, an additional 223 hours of non K-9 related law enforcement officer training and responded to 309 direct calls for service last year. Additionally, the K-9 Unit routinely supplements local police forces as requested.
Officer Beth Perednas and her dog Jaxx, Sheriff Gary Schaffer,Officer Nolan Harris and his dog Axel.