Taneytown police Officer Edward Engel has a new best friend.
His new partner, Danny, a 2 1/2 -year-old German shepherd, arrived Dec. 3 to begin training as the city Police Department's K-9 officer.
The dog is already specially trained to find controlled substances such as marijuana and cocaine. He is also trained to work with a partner on patrol duty.
"We needed the dog because we believe the drugs are getting worse and worse here, because of the growth in the different areas," said Taneytown Police Chief Mel Diggs.
"I feel we have more problems than we had in the past," he said.
"The dog will be beneficial to us and will help control the problem."
Danny and Officer Engel are now learning to work together, because Officer Engel has never had a four-footed partner before.
Last Monday, Officer Engel and Danny began two weeks of intensive training at Castle's Canine, a canine school in Mechanicsburg, Pa., where Danny had been trained for his new police duties.
The Police Department applied for a grant from the Governor's Alcohol and Drug Commission in October that would provide 75 percent of the $7,672 to buy and train the dog and to build a holding cage in a police car for him.
City government agreed to pay the remainder of the cost, Chief Diggs said.
The application was accepted by state officials, but the funding had to be approved by the federal government, which provides the grant money.
Chief Diggs said the department received the federal government's approval Dec. 2.
The next day, Danny was picked up at Castle's Canine.
He had been staying at the school since his arrival from Czechoslovakia about a month ago.
Danny moved into Officer Engel's Westminster home soon after he arrived, so the two could get used to each other, the chief said.
"He's about 80 pounds. He's predominantly black with some tan areas," Officer Engel said of the dog. "I've got to keep him with me all the time."
Officer Engel came to the Taneytown Police Department from Baltimore about a year ago.
The chief said the Police Department will educate the community about the dog to prevent misconceptions about Danny's function with the department.
"We will be using the dog in demonstrations for children in the schools and for senior citizens," Chief Diggs said.
"Everyone will be aware of the dog."
Residents need not be afraid of the dog, but it is important for them to remember that the dog is not an ordinary pet, Chief Diggs said.
"It is the type of dog that is not a mean dog. It can come in contact with children or any other citizen in Taneytown without ,, being aggressive," the chief said.
"However, it is a trained dog. It will act on the commands of the handler."