Friendly, Smart Dog Joins CSUN's Campus Police Team
(NORTHRIDGE, Calif., March. 1, 2005) -- She is a fully certified police professional, can and will do the work of five, understands two languages, has a sweet disposition, loves people and puts in a full day's work for--literally--a mere pat on the back.
Briska, a handsome 60-pound German Shepherd born in the Netherlands and raised by a family in Germany, reported for duty at the beginning of February as the canine half of Cal State Northridge's Department of Public Safety's new K-9 team.
Briska and Officer Ray Gonzalez form the department's full-time bomb detection unit, added as part of the department's program of overall professional re-building and as a response to its concerns about campus safety in the post 9/11 world.
Cal State Northridge averages one or two bomb scares per year, about the norm for most colleges and universities in the U.S., said Chief of Police Anne Glavin. "In looking at ways to make ourselves more disaster-prepared, certainly a K-9 unit is critical."
Grants totaling $12,000 from the Police Dog Foundation, Inc., and other groups provided some of the K-9 program's start-up costs. Previously, the university had been obliged to borrow the K-9 officer and dog from CSU Channel Islands for sweeping large events such as commencement ceremonies.
Gonzalez and the four-year-old Briska now will take charge of pre-event explosives detection at all such CSUN campus functions, in addition to their building sweep duties.
"Briska can do a job from ten to 20 times quicker than humans can do it," Gonzalez said. "She can sweep an entire room in a fraction of the time it would take five officers to do it because she doesn't need to look in every nook and cranny and visually inspect a room. Her nose is her detector; it's a million times stronger than a human's nose."
Trained by the highly regarded Inglis Canine Academy in Ventura County, Briska maintains a daily work and training schedule and boards with Gonzalez, who had to learn more than 20 German commands in order to work with his "bilingual" partner.
Gonzalez reserves English commands for around the house, but "at work, it's all German."