• Michelle Dawn Mooney

When it comes to sniffing out explosives, Stockton has nation’s top dog

Stockton University had a lot of firsts in getting to the nation’s top dog in sniffing out explosives. The Galloway Township university’s first K-9 officer and her partner were named 2018 National Explosives Detection Team Champions at the 2018 United States Police Canine Association National Detector Dog Trials held at the campus this week. “We are absolutely ecstatic,” said Sgt. Tracy Stuart who has been with the department since 2007. She and Hemi, a chocolate Lab, became the department’s first K-9 team in 2011. Stuart, who also organized this year’s event, said the three days are not just about competing, but also an opportunity to train and share information with their peers. “We want people to realize the importance of training and that we want our dogs to be the best they can be so they can do their jobs,” she said.

Sgt. Tracy Stuart and her partner, Hemi, have been together since 2011. They were Stockton University’s — then college — first K-9 team.

Stuart and Hemi also placed first in package and vehicle searches, and fourth in room searches. She thanked university personnel, her department and the community for their support during the year-long planning process. More than 100 teams from 11 states and a team from Mexico competed in this year’s event. Participants included the FBI, CIA, New York Police Department and NY Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police Department. The teams were judged on accuracy, performance and speed in the different events, which were held around the Stockton campus. The awards ceremony was held at Stockton Seaview Hotel & Golf Club Wednesday.

Galloway Township Sgt Scott Winneberger and his partner, Rocky, and Officer Brent Lopez and his partner, Colt, placed second for Department Team.

Galloway Township Sgt. Scott Winneberger and his partner, Rocky, placed third overall and fourth in indoor searches. They scored a 198.33 out of 200. Winneberger and Rocky, along with Officer Brent Lopez and his partner, Colt, placed second for Department Team. They were two of five teams to get a perfect score for the indoor search event, their department proudly announced. Stockton President Harvey Kesselman said the university was proud to host the event and thrilled that Stuart and Hemi performed so well. “We recognize and appreciate the work the teams do in keeping the community safe,” Kesselman said. “We are proud to have Sgt. Stuart and Hemi as part of the Stockton community.” Passaic County Sheriff’s officer Tony Testino and his partner Luna, a Belgian Malinois, were awarded the 2018 National Narcotics Detection Team Champions. The team also took second place in vehicle search. Testino and Sebastian Biondo took first place in the department team award. Chester County, Pa. Deputy Sheriff Paul Bryant and his partner, Don, a German shepherd , received the award as 2018 National Cadaver Detection Team Champions. The team also won the 2016 competition.

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