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Virginia State Police academy graduates its largest class of K-9 teams

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Local,Crime,Naomi Jagoda

Twelve new police K-9 teams, including two that will work in Northern Virginia, graduated Friday at a ceremony at the Virginia State Police Training Academy in Chesterfield County.

The group makes up the largest class of K-9 teams to graduate from the Virginia academy, officials said.

One of the pairs, Trooper Gregory Cox and narcotics-detection dog Grace, will work in the State Police's Fairfax Division.

"I don't think I could've got a better dog," Cox said of his black Labrador, which is about 14 months old.

Each of the graduating teams completed 13 weeks of intensive, hands-on training. During his training, Cox said he learned basic handling and maintenance of his dog and learned how to determine when she had detected narcotics.

"It was fun," he said, adding he is excited to use Grace during traffic stops and to find drugs after she alerts him to their presence.

"What other bigger reward can you get?" he asked.

The other Northern Virginia team, consisting of a Virginia State Police trooper and a patrol dog, is assigned to the State Police office for Fauquier and Rappahannock counties.

Additional graduating K-9 teams include North Carolina Highway Patrol troopers, a Roanoke County police officer, and deputies with sheriff's offices in Virginia and North Carolina. Three new Virginia State Police K-9 trainers also graduated.

In 1961, the Virginia State Police became the second state police agency in the nation to start a K-9 program, spokeswoman Corinne Geller said.

njagoda@washingtonexaminer.com

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