Starting Friday, the will welcome its first four-legged member.
The department's new police dog will officially start at the end of this week following the conclusion of a narcotics training course, according to Newton Police Officer Dan Valente, the department's K-9 handler.
"This gives us an additional tool to fight crime, help people out and help the community out," Valente told Newton Patch earlier this week.
In September of last year, Newton Police announced plans to start a K-9 unit in the department. Valente and other local K-9 handlers .
Valente, who will be the dog's sole handler, said he and the dog have attended a daily narcotics course for the last six weeks. By the end of this week, the K-9 will be a certified "drug dog" and will be able to assist the department with narcotics searches.
Eventually, Valente said the dog will be a dual-purpose K-9. Starting in mid-April, Valente and the dog will begin a 14-week patrol course where the dog will learn more about how to track people and suspects.
Even with just the narcotics skills, the K-9 unit is "a big upgrade" for the department, Valente said.
Up until this point, Valente said the department had to call in police dogs from other departments such as Waltham, Burlington and the State Police.
Although it did not cost the department anything to use these other dogs, the K-9 units would sometimes take an hour or more to get to Newton.
The department's new K-9 unit was established entirely on community donations, Valente added, including a $20,000 donation from the , a $3,000 donation from the Nicolazzo family at and a $5,000 donation from each of Newton's three country clubs (, and ).
In the future, Valente said he will be taking the dog out into the community to give demonstrations. The new tool, he said, will not only help the department, but also the citizens of Newton.
"It's the community's dog—not the department's, not mine—the people's [dog]," Valente said.