Two achieve dream of becoming K9 officers
Buddy S. Igitol and Mark Joseph G. Palacios have successfully completed their training to become certified K9 officers for the Department of Public Safety and the CNMI Division of Customs Service.
Igitol and Palacios are now part of a K9 unit program that would help keep the streets and borders safe from criminal elements. Both have dreamt of being part of the program, thus joining the administration’s war on ice.
Officer Igitol is the handler of “Odin,” a dual-purpose patrol dog. He and Officer Anthony DLG Alepuyo, with “Buoy,” demonstrated what they have learned from the three months they spent at the training academy in Smyrna, Florida.
Igitol said he and Alepuyo went on training to help the dogs become obedient in all of their commands specially in apprehending or searching suspected criminals. “The course was broken down into five weeks but all in all, we trained in Smyrna for three months.”
He was a member of the Special Weapons and Tactics team before deciding to become a member of the patrol dog unit. “I used to watch cops in the K9 unit on television and I love to see how the dogs help in apprehending criminals.”
“When I heard that there were open slots for five [Department of Public Safety] officers, I grabbed the opportunity,” said Igitol, who added that he and Alepuyo were the ones selected to undergo the training.
He said they both trained Odin and Buoy. “When we arrived at the training academy, we’re given the color green as our code that means new or rookies. Both dogs were never trained so we all started from scratch and taught them to obey all our commands.”
“It was hard at first but as the days go on, we see the progress. They are now patrol dogs and we are the handlers,” added Igitol.
Palacios, on the other hand, said joining Customs and becoming a detector dog handler was an opportunity that he did not let past. “I used to work at [Pacific Oriental Inc.] and when I heard that there’s an opening, I immediately grabbed the chance.”
“It has been my dream to become a law enforcement officer. Being part of Customs is also close to that since we protect the borders and search for illegal contraband,” said Palacios, who added that he and Miguel T. Magofna Jr. went through a three-month training to earn their detector dog handler certifications.
“We were offered to tryout and there was a selection process. The ones chosen for the program, part of it is based on your physical fitness. There were five of us but only two dogs were available and I was part of the two who were selected,” said Palacios.
He added that it was an intense 12 weeks of training that involved searching warehouses and interiors of other establishments, and baggage and luggage. “There were written assessments after the exercises. And the final assessment involved searching various places.”