REVIEW: Restoring Courtesy, Professionalism (C.P.R.) and Respect Through the NYPD’s Transit Bureau Canine Unit

By Mike I. Bailey, student, SUNY Empire State College

May 5, 2016

In a gesture of courtesy, professionalism and respect, the New York Police Department’s serving officers, Lt. Pappas, Sgt. Brenner and Officer Tieniber, of the Transit Bureau Canine Unit, spoke to students and faculty at SUNY Empire State College’s Metropolitan location on March 28.

Coordinated by Professor David Gechlik, as part of the Police Community Rela­­tions Group Study, the event was attended by approximately 50 students and faculty members Professor Albert Castello, Deborah Moore, Bhuwan Onta and David Fullard. The discussion led by Pappas, Brenner and Tieniber on counterterrorism proved informative.

Dogs are each paired with a handler, then trained for a minimum of one year consisting of seven months detecting odors and handmade explosives and four months patrolling. Canines will work between five and 10 years with their handlers before retiring. In total, the unit comprises five divisions:

1. Narcotics: four dogs are currently active for all of New York City

2. Bomb Squad: dogs are used in vehicular activities or searches

3. ER Service: dogs respond to calls and conduct patrol of vehicles

4. Transit: dogs accompany officers in riding public transit

5. CRC: “vapor wake” dogs that detect bomb odors in populated areas.

Pappas said the Transit Bureau Canine Unit is vital in maintaining New York state’s counterterrorism efforts in public and transit spaces. When asked how success is defined, the officers said that it is about understanding and counteracting terrorists, while ensuring their dogs serve multiple roles.

Success has been so consistent that representatives from the FBI, CIA and Boston police frequently visit to understand how best to replicate and implement canine units. Dignitaries from Palestine, Israel and parts of Europe also have sought advice on how to create canine programs.

One could sense admiration from students and faculty towards the courage of the officers and dogs who are willing to risk their lives. Despite recent growing tensions between the NYPD and general public, Pappas says that his work has taught him to “find peace” and hopes people will remember that officers who wear the uniform are as human as they are. 

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