LITTLETON — When Boxboro Police and surrounding departments responded to a call for shots fired earlier this month, the advanced training and skills of Littleton’s four-legged cop were put to the test — to amazing effect.
Shortly after 11 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 4, residents on Davidson Road in Boxboro reported hearing multiple shots fired. Officers arrived and found that two people had been involved in an altercation, but no firearm was immediately visible.
Officers searched a wooded area near the home, but nothing was found. Thanks to a long-standing mutual aid agreement among communities in Middlesex County, the call was made to Littleton Police to send its K-9 unit. Vojak and his partner, Officer Brian Casey, arrived on scene quickly. Within 90 seconds, Vojak had found the loaded, silver .32 caliber revolver allegedly used in the evening’s incident.
For Vojak, it was just another day on the job.
«Vojak is a terrific partner. He can go places and find things that humans simply can’t get to, and he makes our jobs easier every day,» said Officer Casey, who has been with the 4-year-old German shepherd since Vojak began training as a puppy.
Vojak is certified by the Boston Police K-9 Academy and the United States Police Canine Association. Two years ago, he came in first place in evidence detection at the 2016 Cabela’s Police K-9 Competition.
Earning your stripes as a working K-9 unit is a time-consuming and difficult task, and not every dog is up to the task.
Vojak and officer Casey spent 14 weeks at the Boston Police K-9 Academy to become certified in patrol. Evidence location is a specialized skill that takes even more effort to master.
«Evidence recovery is taught in a few different phases with continual repetition where the dog learns to associate reward upon locating items with human odor,» Officer Casey explained. «We train every month to keep Vojak’s skills fresh. It’s extremely helpful, as a well-trained K-9 can find something in seconds that human officers may spend hours trying to find with their eyes.»
In addition to firearms, Vojak can find knives, cell phones, and any evidence with a human scent that he can trace with his amazing sense of smell. He is also trained to find people. Vojak was able to find a missing person in another community just in the past week.
Vojak and Officer Casey are trained by Boston Police K-9 Officer Troy Caisey, Donny Evans of the Essex Country Sheriff’s Department, Ken Mckenzie of Marlboro Police and Tim Frates of the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department.
Chief Matthew J. Pinard praised the work and tireless dedication of Vojak and Officer Casey.
«A well-regimented K-9 performs a variety of tasks from community policing, to finding missing persons, to locating dangerous weapons, and we are very fortunate in Littleton to have an experienced and qualified team in Vojak and Officer Casey,» Chief Pinard said. «This recent case is yet another example of the value of mutual aid among municipal law enforcement partners in Massachusetts. Each department has specialized resources it can bring to bear on a crime scene of an ongoing incident, making our communities safer in the process.»