Cornell University Police K9 Unit
The Cornell University Police Canine Explosive Detection Unit began in July 2000 under the leadership of Lt. Jeff Montesano. The K9 program now has three active teams that perform many services including dignitary protection details. The team's primary function is checking vehicles, buildings, airplanes, packages, along with performing checks of areas for dignitary visits. The teams assist other agencies in call-outs for explosive detection, and respond to numerous suspicious package complaints. They are utilized during large gatherings such as sporting events, lectures, demonstrations, and other high profile events to help insure a safe atmosphere for all. Although Cornell University does not have a history involving explosives, Reggie is a great deterrent to this unwanted activity. The K9’s are a great asset to the Cornell Police due in part to their ability to detect scent 800 times better than a human.
The “first” team: K9 Sabre and Lieutenant Montesano:
Jeff came to Cornell Police in January of 1999. A resident of Dryden, he is a ’97 graduate of the Otsego County Law Enforcement Academy. He started the Cornell Police first explosives detection K-9 team in 2000 as a Patrol Officer. Officer Montesano located his partner Sabre, a black Labrador retriever from Tompkins County SPCA where he was adopted from. Jeff and Sabre participated in countless dignitary protection details, assisted other agencies in call-outs for explosive detection, and responded to numerous suspicious package complaints. Sabre’s skills earned him a special place among county law enforcement. He was often asked to assist in training other dogs, and could always be counted on to accurately demonstrate his skills in the toughest playing fields.
Two-legged officers often enjoy great longevity in their careers. The canine officer’s tour of duty, while much shorter, is no less honorable. Work takes its toll more quickly on the canine half of the team, and it is a bittersweet occasion when we must separate the team in order to give the dog his well-deserved retirement. It is with great pride, and some sadness, that Cornell Police retired Sabre in April of 2008 and allowed him to move gracefully into a more relaxed status due to his deteriorating health. Sabre passed away in December of 2011. Lt. Montesano continues to lead the program maintaining his skills and expertise through his participation in examining all three K-9 Teams for their New York State explosives yearly certification.
K9 Reggie and Sergeant Noterfonzo
K9 Reggie, handled by Sergeant Kevin Noterfonzo is one of three teams. Reggie is a black lab, rescued from a kill shelter in Kentucky by Rudy's Rescue. Officer Noterfonzo adopted him from Rudy’s Rescue in June 2007 for the purpose of training him in Explosive Detection. Reggie and Officer Noterfonzo graduated Southern Tier Police Canine Association Training center on September 12, 2007 after 240 hours of training. As a team, they successfully completed 120 hours of scent detection school at Southern Tier Police Canine Association. When Reggie sits with his ears at attention he has found a possible explosive device and begins to bark alerting his handler. Officer Noterfonzo then must determine where the device is located and reward Reggie with his ball so that he knows he did a job well done. Reggie's certifications include New York State certified in Explosives Detection and Human Tracking along with an ATF Federal Certification in N.O.R.T. (National Odor Recognition Training). Reggie is very friendly and loves to be petted. Sergeant Noterfonzo now supervises the K9 unit and sets up daily maintenance training for the K-9 Teams.
K9 Rogue and Officer Hollenbeck
K9 Rogue is handled by Officer Kyle Hollenbeck. Rogue, a black Labrador retriever, was donated by Julie Lathrop and Cheryl Runyan of the Kramer Foundation, who rescued K9 Rogue from a five (5) day kill shelter. Officer Hollenbeck and Rogue’s equipment were purchased through the New York State Homeland Security 2011 grant. Officer Hollenbeck and Rogue currently hold a certification through the New York State Department of Criminal Justice as an Explosives Detection K9 Team. K9 Rogue is a very energetic and a loving dog who aims to please everyone he meets. When not in service, K9 Rogue enjoys playing with his “brother”, Tucker, a T-cup Yorkie, and going for swim with his partners, K9 Chase and K9 Reggie.
K9 Chase and Officer Haines
Last by not least is K9 Chase, a yellow Labrador retriever handled by Officer Justin Haines. Chase was donated to the program by a family in Freeville NY. Since that time, K9 Chase and Officer Haines have been inseparable. Chase has a very calm demeanor, and is outgoing to everyone he meets.
Officer Haines and Chase currently hold a certification through the New York State Department of Criminal Justice as an Explosives Detection K9 Team. When not in service, K9 Chase enjoys spending his free time at home chasing rabbits and squirrels that he may come across in the yard or on a walk with Officer Haines.
Remember, always ask a K-9 handler/owner if it is okay to pet the dog before doing so. There are times when the K-9 and handler are looking for explosive devices and must stay focused on their work.
The Cornell Police would like to thank the Companion Animal Hospital at Cornell's Veterinary College which has assisted with the K-9 program by providing medical care, physicals, vaccinations, and medication for Reggie and Sabre. The Small Animal Clinic also contacted Hill's Science Diet dog food company, who has graciously donated all of the K9 Teams food. The Companion Animal Hospital's contributions to this program are greatly appreciated, and are a significant factor in our being able to keep this program running.