The Utica Police Department welcomed its newest member, a furry officer.

Meet 3-month-old Sheepadoodle named Penny. According to the Rome Sentinel, Penny is currently in training. Penny serves as the police department’s first therapy dog and will work alongside Utica Police Officer Marissa Vomer and the department’s Crisis Response Team to handle mental health calls throughout the city.

“Having a therapy dog present during a crisis can help people overcome fear, anxiety, and it can literally save lives,” Vomer said. “I look forward to taking Penny on as a partner and, from what I’ve seen, Penny is up to the challenge as well. The ultimate goal is to improve our community and to more effectively work with persons in crisis. I think the impact can be huge and meaningful,” Vomer added.

According to the Utica Police Department, as Penny continues to be trained, some of her duties will include sitting with victims and witnesses to reduce anxiety and make them more comfortable speaking, calming persons in crisis and making them more willing to accept the help they need, and helping with peer support functions within the police department to comfort officers.

Penny also has the potential to assist schools during times of mental health crises, bereavement counseling, or other appropriate requests from local school districts, as well as participating in demonstrations to schools and community events to help foster a more open dialogue between police and the community.

You can read a ton more about Penny online here with the Utica Police Department.

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Every city and town in Central New York has a dog breed that perfectly matches its personality. What is your hometown's true dog identity?
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