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Meet New Palmer Police K-9 Unit

Palmer Police Officer Rick Umstead and his canine partner Armor, hit the streets Monday.

Palmer Police Officer Rick Umstead has just completed another overnight shift and has to file some paperwork to wrap up his day.

Meanwhile, his partner waits in the police squad vehicle, looking forward to their next assignment.

It's the end of their fourth day working together as partners and Umstead shows his appreciation by patting his partner on the head.

His partner is Armor, a German shepherd from the Czech Republic, and the newest member of the police department's K-9 unit.

The department has three K-9 units and Umstead -- who has served Palmer since 2001 on the SWAT team and running Kid Cadet and crime prevention programs -- is happy to have his new assignment.

"I enjoy working with dogs," the 34-year-old said. "I always wanted to do this. I'm a dog guy."

The two started Monday after spending four weeks of intense training at Canine Castle in Mechanicsburg, which ended lasst week.

Umstead said the two spent 14-hour days getting training and will continue with additional training at least three times a month.

Umstead said Armor specializes in streetwork and narcotics, the same as the canine partnering with Sgt. Glenn Sipel. Officer Keith Border's dog is specially trained for bomb detection.

The officer said canines really are an asset to police departments.

"There are so many aspects. They are great for using their senses and their smell," Umstead said. "They can run after a bad guy but also find a little girl who's missing. And they are big for narcotics."

So far, though, Umstead hasn't had to call upon Armor for expertise. But Umstead said the dog is ready for the task.

The two spend downtime practicing and Armor lives with Umstead as well.

"He's my partner so I'm excited for any usage," Umstead said. "When it's his turn to come into play, he'll be able to perform as needed."

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