Coleman enticed Elvy to bark, and he pinned a Brown police badge to his harness vest.
“She’s tired already,” O’Connor joked during her remarks. “She didn’t ask me for a vacation but she works hard.”
Providing comfort, building community
The year-and-a-half-old Labrador retriever came to Brown DPS through an organization called Puppies Behind Bars, which trains incarcerated people to raise service dogs for injured veterans, first responders and law enforcement officers. ‘order. Dogs are specifically bred, bred and trained for the program, and selected for their temperament.
“She’s trained to be present and friendly and to be petted,” Chatman said. “There is also science behind this and evidence that the presence of comfort dogs lowers blood pressure, lowers anxiety and elevates mood.”
Colleges and universities across the country have welcomed service dogs as part of their public safety services. During his inaugural week at Brown, Elvy participated in activities and orientation fairs for new students and attended the pep rally for the volleyball team at the Pizzitola Sports Center. His community engagement efforts even extend to an Instagram account.
“People petted her and asked about her,” Coleman said. “She opens up conversations, and it helps people see beyond my uniform and get to know me as the person doing my job so they can learn more about the department and all of the programs we offer at the community, such as property registration, self-defense classes, safety walks and first aid programs.
Elvy underwent 10 months of socialization training at Otisville and Fishkill prisons in New York, learning dozens of commands. During her training, she spent weekends in New York City with civilians and learned to acclimatize to crowds, public transportation, elevators, and noise.
During the ceremony, Coleman showed the audience a book containing letters from every incarcerated individual, foster family and trainer who has worked with Elvy in the Puppies Behind Bars training program. He read a passage from an incarcerated person who referred to Elvy as “the queen” and wrote fondly that “you licked my face the moment I held you in my arms”.
“She links Brown DPS with all of you in the Brown community,” Coleman said at the ceremony. “I’ve seen in two short weeks, I’ve been arrested more times than I can count.
“It probably takes me an hour and a half to cross the main green,” he added with a laugh.