Secaucus police are welcoming Oakley, their first therapy dog, to the department as part of a new program to help victims of traumatic events, as well as welcome people at community gatherings.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Police Officer Taylor Ensmann, sparked the idea early in Chief Dennis Miller’s tenure. While Therapy Dog Programs exist in other states, like California, Ohio and Massachusetts, there are no known police departments in New Jersey that follow suit.
A therapy dog will provide affection, comfort and support to those affected by trauma, mental health and crime, Miller said in a statement today.
Oakley, a golden retriever, is personally owned by 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.
Ensmann will be accompanied by Oakley 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.
Furthermore, the duo will be visiting local senior citizen housing facilities and
the VA Clinic on Meadowlands Parkway, as well as to provide comfort and affection when family members are grieving over the death of a loved one.
“When I was sworn in as Chief of Police I vowed to enhance community relations and I hold true to that vow,” 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.”
Mayor Michael Gonnelli also offered praise for the new initiative.
“Adding a canine to our force is something I have dreamed about for a long time. Oakley is wonderful addition to the department’s community policing efforts. Make sure you say hello when you see him!”