Say hello to Echo, the new K9 working with Brick Township Police.

Echo joins Vader, who is an explosives detection dog on the force.

Police from Monmouth and Ocean Counties have been training K9 officers and their handlers for work in the field since September and it wrapped up with a graduation ceremony on Friday January 11.

Those officers graduated the rigorous program led by Toms River K9 handler, Sergeant James Reilly who was assisted with the training by K9 handlers Sergeant Paul Catalina of Brick Township and Patrolman Anthony Carafa of Allenhurst.

Brick Township's newest K9, a German Shepherd named Echo, has been assigned to Ptl. Scott Smith.

A Labrador Retriever named Vader, who was deployed last year with Ptl. John Turrin, attended portions of the training to become certified in scent tracking.

The graduation ceremony was held at the Toms River Police Department where family, friends, and command staff of several departments gathered to celebrate the completion of the graduates' training.

These dogs are capable of tracking and patrol work, and could potentially go on to specialize in various areas of policing and public safety.

K9's live with their handlers, who often have families and other pets of their own and quickly become a part of those families.

Every day the handler goes to work, the K9 is eager to join him or her Brick Police said, "expressing as much loyalty and protection as any police partner could ever offer."

These K9s also become a part of the larger law enforcement family, wearing bulletproof/stab-proof vests, appearing with their handlers at community policing events and putting on demonstrations.

They bravely face the same dangers of their human counterparts every single day.

Some of the training completed by Echo and Patrolman Smith over the 16-week course included agility, handler protection, officer protection, verbal command control, socialization, tracking scent and building clearing.

Brick Township now has five K9 teams: Sgt. Catalina/Duke, Ptl. Prendeville/Max, Ptl. Fogerty/Rigby, Ptl. Turrin/Vader, and Ptl. Smith/Echo.

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