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Tyro Puts the Bite on Crime

Tyro jumps out of a patrol car and into the Greenwich Police Department to do a round of hellos with his handler, Officer Mike Macchia.

The 5-year-old German shepherd, named after the Viking god of law and justice, has been partnered with Macchia a little over four years.

Minutes into our interview, Macchia and Tyro are called to a burglary on Monica Road. They hustle out the door, into their K-9 equipped patrol car and fly down Greenwich Avenue. Tyro is ready for action.

"Depending on the call, Tyro will come with me and we'll set up a perimeter with other officers. Once we're about to enter a building, I'll announce twice that there is a K-9 officer that is about to enter to alert any innocent people inside the building and give the bad guy a chance to surrender."

Police surrounded the house once arriving on the scene. Tyro was released into the house to investigate. First going to the back of the house checking two bedrooms, a bathroom, living room and kitchen. He didn't find much evidence.

All K-9 dogs must pass an 18-week training program at the Connecticut State Police K-9 Academy. Macchia also incorporates hand signals into his training.

Training ranges "from tracking to bite work, obedience and evidence recovery," Macchia said. "I always want to keep his nose as sharp as possible. It's a muscle. You need to keep it in shape."

The Connecticut State Police and the United States Police Canine Association certified Tyro in Patrol Procedures. He was also trained and certified in narcotics detection by the Connecticut State Police in 2008.

"A dog can smell fear," said Macchia. "Your body emits adrenaline and a chemical called apocrine that a dog can immediately pick up on."

A typical day for Tyro and Macchia starts with daily maintenance and grooming, along with light training exercises such as narcotics and tracking.

"It takes a special person to be a K-9 Officer," said Lt. John Wachowski, a Police Department Shift Commander. "You need someone who's loving, caring and sensitive, but who can also administer commands and be top dog."

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