Taking A Paw Size Step To Campus Safety

Kean University proudly welcomes a new four-legged police officer

Campus Life > Taking A Paw Size Step To Campus Safety
Taking A Paw Size Step To Campus Safety
Rose Marie Kitchen

Kean University is proudly now part of the K-9 unit in the state of New Jersey. Gunner became a cougar in 2014 and is proud to be Kean University’s new K-9 Police officer.

Gunner is a Czech Shepherd that is one and half years old. Detective Mark Anacker, a 10-year-veteran, is his partner and handler. The duo works together to keep the campus community safe and secure, using Gunner’s special training to ensure the safety of  campus buildings, grounds, and arenas. “Gunner is a police officer of Kean University,” ensured Detective Anacker. Gunner completed a 14-week-training course at the New Jersey State Police Canine Academy and maintains his certification twice a month. Gunner was purchased on a grant from Homeland Security.

Gunner’s skills are different than other K-9 police dogs. He is a bomb detector dog that notices when something is out of proper element. “He will detect something but he’s not going to react…He will always notice it though,” explained Detective Anacker. Gunner is trained to detect and sit when he finds any object that could result in a bomb, and will never go straight into the object.

Gunner and Detective Anacker are members of the New Jersey Detect and Render Safe Task Force [NJDRSTF] with the New Jersey State Police and Homeland Security. The NJDRSTF is a highly trained rapid response group of explosive detection professionals. Being a member of the NJDRSTF provides great benefits to Kean University. “Whenever there is an activation, Gunner is one of the dogs that will be activated, regardless if it’s in Kean [University] or somewhere else.”

Having Gunner on campus has helped Kean University Police Department handle calls differently, for example calls of suspicious boxes and packages. When a call of that nature would come in before the university had Gunner, the campus police would have to disturb classes and shut down buildings as they waited for a police dog to come from other agencies. “Having the dog present is one direct impact that allows us to handle things right away,” stated Vincent Kearney, lieutenant and operations commander at Kean University Police Headquarters.

Gunner and Detective Anacker have been to Miss America Pageant, NJ Special Olympics, Detective Santiago’s funeral, where they swept a three-block radius, and Jewish Olympics in Trenton with the NJDRSTF. “Being part of the Render Safe Task [NJDRSTF] opens up many doors for Kean University,” confirmed Anacker.

Different regions in the state of New Jersey require K-9 units. Union County currently has a police dog which is in the process of retiring, leaving the door open for Kean University. “Homeland Security came in and talked to our director and said we need a new bomb dog in this region, are we interested, and we said yes,” clarified Detective Anacker. 

Gunner will find any object he is imprinted in to find. Gunner will work for 45 minutes at a time. Some dogs are known to only be able to work for 20 minutes, but as a result of Gunner’s high energy and determination to always find what he is looking for, he can easily last for 45 minutes.  Detective Anacker pointed out, “If he works 45 minutes, then you have to give him at least 20 minutes afterwards to relax and calm down.”

The Kean University Police Department is proud to have Gunner working with them as he is an important asset to campus safety. “The primary goal is to keep the university safe…He’s part of what we do to keep the community safe,” stated Lieutenant Kearney. Gunner will always be around campus working, whether he’s in the police car or walking on patrol.

If Gunner is seen working it is best to just let him work and give him space. It is asked that no one pets Gunner whether he is on or off duty

K-9 police dogs are known to work for five years, and at the end of a dog’s retirement the agency will sign the dog over to the handler to purchase. “He’s part of a family, he’s part of a group, he’s part of a police department,” acknowledge Detective Anacker. The bond between Gunner and Detective Anacker has grown, leaving Detective Anacker with no doubt that he will always keep Gunner. Gunner has become part of the Kean University Police Department’s family but also Detective Anacker’s family.

Detective Anacker went to pick a dog with the New Jersey State Police head trainers because they are the ones that approve if the dog is good enough for school. When Detective Anacker went to select a dog to be partnered with, he saw Gunner after he passed all his tests and he spent some time with him. “He was going around in circles and then came and sat right in between my legs. The head trainer said ‘you didn’t pick that dog that dog picked you’,” smiled Anacker, “He’s my buddy”.

Always feel free to say hello to Gunner and Detective Anacker., Detective Anacker added, “He’s here to do a job, let him do [his] job [of] keep[ing] the students and the faculty safe that go to Kean [University].”

More information regarding Gunner can be found on the Kean University Police Department’s website page.