Where some of the public sentiment toward the police is negative, the Secaucus Police Department has created a Therapy Dog Program to enhance community relations and assist the general public, first responders and the staff of the Secaucus Police Department cope with the exposure to traumatic events.
Police Officer Taylor Ensmann, sparked the idea early in Chief Dennis Miller’s tenure. Therapy Dog Programs exist in other states, like California, Ohio and Massachusetts, however there are no known police departments in New Jersey that employ the use of therapy dogs. A therapy dog will provide affection, comfort and support to those affected by trauma, mental health and crime.
Oakley, a golden retriever, is personally owned by Police Officer Ensmann, but is a certified “therapy dog” that is trained to provide affection, comfort and support to people, often in settings such as hospitals, nursing homes, schools, libraries, or disaster areas.
Oakley will accompany Police Officer Ensmann during his normal patrol duties and will be used at public events, such as street fairs, concerts, parks and on the newly implemented “park and walk” detail. Additionally, Oakley will be used to provide emotional support when following up with victims of traumatic events such as domestic violence, house fires or even a witness to a violent crime, especially a child witness. Police Officer Ensmann and Oakley will be visiting our local senior citizen housing facilities and the VA Clinic on Meadowlands Parkway. Additionally, Oakley will be used to assist in providing comfort and affection when family members are grieving over the death of a close family member.
“When I was sworn in as Chief of Police I vowed to enhance community relations and I hold true to that vow,” Chief Dennis Miller said. “The Therapy Dog Program is additional tool that will be utilized for community outreach and engagement, thereby bringing the Secaucus Police Department closer to the community it serves.” Miller said.
“Adding a canine to our force is something I have dreamed about for a long time,” Mayor Michael J. Gonnelli said. “Oakley is wonderful addition to the department’s community policing efforts. Make sure you say hello when you see him!” Gonnelli said.
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