The Camden Police has had K-9 units at different periods in its long and distinguished history. The unit was formed after William Neale was appointed Chief of Police on August 1, 1960. The K-9 Unit was first commanded by Sergeant Carmin Fuscellaro Jr., who was killed in the line of duty in February of 1961. For the next 20 years the K-9 unit served the citizenry of Camden. The unit was disbanded due for budgetary reasons in 1981.
Thanks to retired Camden Police Department K-9 officers Bob Nelson and Larry Worrell, retired Camden Police officer Charles Kocher, and Camden Fire Department photographer Bob Bartosz, and Dusty Simon for their help in creating this page.
A History of Camden's first K-9 Units
Chief William Neale gave the go ahead for the K-9 in 1960. Carmin "Fuzzy" Fuscellaro was the first Sergeant to set things up. They were first located at South 10th Street and Newton Avenue in the old Public Service Garage behind the Patrol Division also located there. Some referred to it as the Police Garage. The officers did the majority of the work as their talent was relentless with Dave Newberry, Ray Paradise and others all kicking in and building the facility.
The biggest hurdle was winning public support for the Unit. The picture of the Jay-walking program was an idea of Walt Busko. Busko obtained some bed sheets and had Camden Police Officer Anthony Martino senior paint "Do not Jaywalk": on the sides in front of Lit Bros. You can see a little of Officer Martino's artwork in the display window of Lit Bros. behind the officers. Bill Latham was another great handler in the picture.
Chief William Neale deserves the credit for having the wisdom and foresight to start the K-9, police academy, juvenile bureau, traffic and accident investigation units within the department. All became well respected on the East Coast! I remember Bill Neale telling me that there was only a handful of police departments willing to use K-9 dogs at that time because of the aggressive nature of the crowd control element. Later, detection for humans and bombs gave a more favorable appearance. Note Chris Yeager's bloodhound.
The officers are still wearing the Wool Coats. The original coast were called "Potato sacks" because they were so long. The K-9, cut them to car length. The leather jackets were then implemented because of the hair from the K-9 dogs. Officer Walter Busko found a north North Jersey company that provided the jackets for $35.00 each. Boy, did that wool smell when it was wet!
Later, the entire police department adopted the leather jackets after a series of options were presented to the officers and by 1968 everyone switched to leather jackets from the former blouse jackets and wool coats. This was the turning point for the 8-point hat to the round trooper styled hat as well. The Gray shirts remained but the navy tie was changed to Nicholson blue to match the stripe on the pants. Later the shirt color changed in 1972, to Navy blue following the disturbances experienced in the city. The K-0 brought the Ascots back in Nicholson Blue later and can be seen in some of the pictures with Bob Nelson and Joseph Richardson.
In the background of one of your photos, we see Inspector Yeager and Inspector Watson. Public displays were common to win the support of the public for the K-9's and what they could do. The first police vehicle was a red Ford Falcon station wagon. No air conditioning. Philadelphia vehicles were also red at the time. We have come a long way.
The K-9 first K-9 unit was disbanded for manpower needs and overall cost of the kennels in the mid-1960s. The city decided to bring in a Public Safety Director, a retired State Police Sergeant, Keith Kauffman.
Most of the K-9 officers ended up as juvenile or adult detective bureau so there was no big return to patrol each time they disbanded. Ray Paradise was always the "builder," and Walt Busko ran the juvenile bureau for years; Bill Latham went to the Bureau for a great career, John Aversa was promoted to sergeant and ended up in Communications and so on. We see the same thing with the Warren Worrell and Gary Miller era after they disbanded that group.
Eventually the unit was started again with different units (SRD, SRB) at South 10th Street and Newton Avenue and then disbanded for manpower. Chief Harold Melleby started the unit for a third time at the Farragut Avenue location in Cramer Hill.
was not unique to the department. Traffic Bureau met the same fate with
different combinations of Traffic and Accident
Investigations. At one point, traffic was part of
Identification Bureau and the records were kept in the basement. A
grant of Honda motorcycles revised that unit. They were shared by the
SRB and ruined by the officers in a very short period of time. But
that's another story. Just a little color
Sergeant Harry Harris brought the pride of the K-9 back to the original unit that I am sure he had known from the earlier years. Camden subscribed to the model of keeping the dogs at a Kennel. Later, the idea of the handler taking the animals home became popular due to the cost of Kennel maintenance. Each time, it was the officers that made the units the pride of the department by doing the majority of the work.
Charles J. Kocher
Seattle Daily Times - February 5, 1961
Carmin Fuscellaro Jr. - Dennis Evans - Donald Murphy
Photo by Bob Bartosz
Sergeant Walter Bosko
Photo by Bob Bartosz
& George Mahoney
Courier-Post - February 22, 2012
K-9 Unit in action along Baird Boulevard in an effort to catch the serial rapist
who had already attacked five women in the area of Farnham Park
|Camden Courier-Post - May 9, 2012|
Cherry Hill police K-9 dies
— A police K-9 that worked alongside Cherry Hill police officers for 10
years has died.
|Camden Courier-Post - May 31, 2012|
Cpl. Zsakhiem James (center) is 'apprehended' by Patrolman Gabe Rodriguez and his new K-9 partner Serge during a demonstration for students from Sacred Heart School in Camden during the Camden Clean Campaign clean-up day on Wednesday. Serge is the second K-9 officer to be added to the Camden Police Department. Denise Henhoeffer/Courier-Post
|Camden Courier-Post - August 11, 2012|
City police dog found
dead in cruiser
|Camden Courier-Post - August 14, 2012|
Camden police blame car malfunction in K-9's death
CAMDEN — Police revealed Monday that an in-car alarm system never sounded last week when temperatures in a squad car skyrocketed, killing a department K-9.
Camden Police Chief Scott Thomson said that after the squad car’s air conditioning malfunctioned Thursday morning, an alarm system also failed as temperatures in the car rose.
The alarm should have alerted Patrolman Gabriel Rodriguez that his car, with K-9 Serge inside, was overheating in the department parking lot, and the system should have turned on a fan and automatically rolled down the vehicle’s windows. A heat sensor is supposed to activate the alarm at 85 degrees.
But none of that happened. When Rodriguez went out to his car two hours later, Serge was unresponsive.
“We had failures of the vehicle and the (alarm) system,” Thomson said. “We have an independent mechanic coming in to examine this.
“We want to ensure nothing like this ever happens again. If there is some type of deficiency with the system, we want the K-9 community across the United States to be aware of it.”
While an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Serge’s death is continuing, Thomson said Monday that the two-hour period for which Rodriguez left Serge in the car is not uncommon.
Between the alarm system and specialized kennel in the police car, Thomson said, the upgrades to Rodriguez’s patrol car cost about $3,000.
“It’s not like it was just a regular police car,” he said.
Thomson said all squad cars, including the K-9 vehicles, are required to be inspected before each tour of duty by the officer.
While noting that the dog’s death has an effect on the whole department and community at large, Thomson assured that no one is feeling the pain more than the officer himself.
“There is an inseparable bond that is created between the K-9 and its handler,” Thomson said. “There is nobody that is more devastated than Officer Rodriguez and his family. These dogs go home with them and become part of the officer’s family as well.
Serge, a German shepherd, had been with the department for only a few months.
Serge and Rodriguez were part of the 38th class of the Atlantic County Police Training Center, which graduated in May following 16 weeks of training.
Serge was one of two active K-9s on Camden’s police roster.
Cpl. Zsakheim James has been partnered with Zero for a number of years.
Gloucester Township Police Capt. Anthony Minosse said the department’s K-9 handlers have tested out their own heat alarm systems in the wake of Serge’s death. Minosse said he’s also looking into updating the alarm systems, which have similar functions to Camden’s.
“It’s unfortunate when you have a tragedy like that,” he said. “It’s just sad.”
Russ Hess, executive director of the United States Police K-9 Association, said the vehicle alarm systems have helped to reduce the number of deaths like Serge’s.
“As time evolves and technology increases, the safeguards are going to be more prevalent,” Hess said.
Hess said even if the systems cost a few thousand dollars, they are far less than replacing a K-9, which can cost between $5,000 to $15,000 to purchase and train.
Still, even with new technologies, the deaths do occur.
Serge’s death marked at least the fourth K-9 across the country to die inside a police vehicle from heat exposure since late July. In Texas, two K-9s died after being left in a police vehicle overnight.
Serge’s death is the fifth in South Jersey since 2009.
In Mount Holly, Patton, a golden retriever, died after being left in a car in 2009. In Gloucester Township, Schultz, a German shepherd, died when a robbery suspect allegedly threw him into traffic on Route 42 in 2010. In Vineland, Clif was struck by an elderly driver who swerved around an officer walking along the shoulder of a road last year. And in Millville, on June 24, Treu, a Belgian Malinois, was found dead in a kennel behind an officer’s home.
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