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K-9 units to patrol Northland Center

By: Jennie Miller | Southfield Sun | Published March 30, 2011

 Cain, a 9-year-old highly trained German shepherd, patrols Eastland Center with Terry Foley, a retired police K-9 officer and owner of the K-9 Academy in Wayne, and mall security guard Ki’Juan Anderson of Harrison Township.

Cain, a 9-year-old highly trained German shepherd, patrols Eastland Center with Terry Foley, a retired police K-9 officer and owner of the K-9 Academy in Wayne, and mall security guard Ki’Juan Anderson of Harrison Township.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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SOUTHFIELD — The presence of highly trained German shepherds is expected to deter crime and help shoppers at Northland Center and Eastland Center feel safe as they wander the malls.

Terry Foley, a retired K-9 police officer and owner of K-9 Academy in Wayne, was brought on board by Jones Lang LaSalle, which operates both Northland and Eastland malls.

“It’s just something different in addition to our own security,” said Pam Lightbody, marketing manager for both malls, explaining that the effort was born out of a pre-existing relationship with the company. “Last year we worked with a few different groups that did K-9 training — they were using different storage areas in the mall to work on their training.”

Part of that effort involved periodic patrols around the mall, Lightbody said, adding that the pups were well received by mall patrons.

“It adds a calmer atmosphere to the center, for whatever reason I think people are pretty comfortable around dogs,” she said. “They’re definitely a deterrent, and they have a different vantage point.”

Foley spent 29 years as a police officer in Wayne, 24 as a K-9 handler. He retired last July, but has owned the training facility for the past eight years.

“This is based similar to a program that I train for hospitals,” Foley said of the mall security effort. “I have dogs assigned to security in five major hospitals. In that program, they’ve liked how German shepherds could be social, under control and only act on command. That’s what the malls wanted to also incorporate. Mainly, they’re a security deterrent, but they’re going to be there to keep the visitors safe and happy.”

Mall patrons are allowed and encouraged to pet the dogs on patrol.

“The first day we were there, there was a play area and all the kids came out and pet the dog and made it a happy experience,” Foley said, adding that the dogs are highly trained, yet have a stigma of being merely “biting machines.” “Of course, when something very bad happens, they can be utilized. But until then, they’re nothing more than a friendly animal and part of the mall.”

The dogs are trained in obedience and control, as well as detection work for narcotics and explosives. In this case, the dogs’ main priority is protecting mall patrons, Foley said.

He and other retired officers part of the K-9 Academy will periodically patrol both malls.

“About three to four times a week per mall,” he said. “We’re going to vary the times so nobody really knows when we’re going to be there. Sometimes at night, sometimes during the day. … We’re trying to show that the mall is concerned enough that they want to keep their patrons safe and have a good experience at the mall.”

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