University of Illinois Police Department therapy K9 helps de-escalate serious situation

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University of Illinois Police Department’s K9 Lollipop poses for a picture. (Photo courtesy of University of Illinois Police Department.)

URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — University of Illinois Police officers said one of their therapy K9s helped keep a situation from further escalating.

Urbana Police officers were called to a bus shelter near West Green and South Gregory streets. When they got there, police found a 38-year-old man threatening to kill himself with a knife. Officers said he cut and stabbed himself in front of them.

While talking with the man to try to calm him down, officers found out that he liked dogs. UIPD called in Officer Alex Tran and his partner, K9 Lollipop, who both had the day off. They rushed from home to the scene.

“When they arrived at the bus shelter, officers told the man that he could meet with a friend that had been summoned to the scene, have a cigarette, and see K9 Lollipop if he dropped the knife.” After he handed over the knife, he hung out with the K9 for a little while before he was taken to the hospital for treatment.

“No one was injured, thanks to the empathetic response of the Urbana Police Department and with a little assistance from K9 Lollipop,” said officers.

Lollipop is not the only therapy K9 helping out the UIPD. When she became UIPD chief, Alice Cary brought K9 Archie with her from her previous job with the University of Maryland Baltimore. They also have K9s Winston and Rosie on the force.

“The therapy K9s and their handlers have made a huge impact in just the short time they have been in Champaign-Urbana,” said Cary. “Already, they’ve comforted families involved in a Christmas Eve fire, participated in the interview of a young victim of child abuse, and now helped Urbana Police to successfully de-escalate a very serious call involving an armed individual.”

The therapy dogs not only help officers in critical situations, they also help people cope with everyday stress. They are available by request to visit campus and community groups.

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