By A.J. ALGIER
Sun Staff Writer
STONINGTON — A well-deserved retirement will result in a job opening at the police department sometime this spring. The applicant must show dogged-pursuit tactics and follow in the paw-steps of a popular police force veteran. The department’s trained police dog, Fritz, will be retiring after more than six years of service.
Stonington Police Chief J. Darren Stewart said along with the retirement of Fritz, who has worked with Officer Greg Howard, it is expected that Howard will also retire from K-9 duties. That would leave the job open for a new officer who will go through extensive training, as will the dog. Fritz’s replacement then would move in with his human handler.
Speaking with the Board of Police Commissioners last week, Stewart said it is time to plan for Fritz’s retirement. He said there is about $2,500 set aside in an account specifically for the purchase of a new dog, which could cost the department $7,000. He said there is another $2,500 available in a donation account. The rest, he said, could be taken from a K-9 program account.
The dog would train for six weeks before becoming a member of the department
Scott Bates, outgoing commission chairman, called Fritz “a bargain,” saying he’s done a good job for the department.
Stewart said Fritz has been called out on many occasions to aid in searches and was particularly adept at tracking burglary suspects through densely wooded, swampy or muddy areas. Fritz and his handler, Howard, also make many appearances at local schools, fairs and events. The dog is also used in drug searches.
Capt. Jerry Desmond also informed the group that the department’s newest recruit, Philip Carrier, of Groton, sworn in during a ceremony attended by friends and family on Oct. 7, had resigned from the department.
Carrier, 23, had begun training at the Connecticut Police Academy, Desmond said, and “realized it wasn’t for him.”
The board decided to waive a requirement that would have obligated Carrier to pay $15,000 in the first year and $10,000 in the second year of his broken contract as pay back for his training. The contract provision is used in many police departments to ensure that towns are not funding the cost of training only to have the recruit leave to go to another department.
Desmond said Carrier had not been in the academy for any length of time before leaving. Carrier had taken one of two empty spots on the 36-member department resulting from retirements.