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Bomb detecting police dog joins UOPD

Onyx and his handler, Officer Troy Phillips, returned from an out-of-state training. According to UOPD, Onyx completed the 12-week-long training in just 7-weeks.

Posted: Mar 13, 2018 4:48 PM
Updated: Mar 13, 2018 4:56 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- The University of Oregon Police Department got a new officer, one with four legs.

Police dog Onyx is a 3-year-old black Labrador and joined the department for his skills in bomb detection.

Onyx and his handler, Officer Troy Phillips, just got back from an out-of-state training program in Sacramento, California. Onyx completed the 12-week-long training in only 7-weeks, according to UOPD. Onyx was trained to sniff out explosives, only a few dogs in Oregon go through the training, according to UOPD.

"We need to be able to adequately search our spaces for dangerous items and not count on other agencies alone," said UOPD Chief Matt Carmichael.

Officer Phillips and Onyx will start getting familiar with campus, the work responsibilities and meeting new people. Officer Phillips is asking members of the UO community to ask before approaching Onyx so he can make sure Onyx follows directions.

"From the start, Onyx was full of energy and incredibly eager to work and play, but he lacked focus and never stopped moving," Phillips said. "Once we were able to focus that energy into his training, Onyx has really transformed."

In September 2017, Carmichael announced that he wanted a police dog to join their team. He wants to make clear that Onyx has two responsibilities; explosive detection and community engagement.

"Engagement is, by far, the main part of the dog's work," Carmichael said. "He's there for outreach to students. In my experience, it's a great icebreaker, a great conversation starter. We want our students to feel comfortable and positive about their police, and a friendly dog is a great ambassador."

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