Rockland County Sheriff Louis Falco announced on Tuesday afternoon that Lollie, a K-9 officer, will be retiring. Lollie, 11, served as an explosive detection officer for the past nine years and this black Labrador retriever is Rockland's first bomb squad K-9. Her number, 454, is retiring with her.
"She is being purchased from the county by her handler, Detective Melissa Johnston, for $1. It's sad to see her go because she's still full of energy left in her, but ... the usual life of a bomb dog is nine years (so she has to retire)," said Falco. "She put herself in harm's way a lot. Lollie is No. 1 in our hearts."
"(It'll be) a little bit (sad), just because I've worked with her for so long, for nine years ... (her retirement) is well deserved," said Johnston. "I think she's had a great impact on the department. She's done ... thousands of searches for explosives. She's definitely worked very hard."
Lollie has swept schools, government offices, businesses, infrastructure and suspicious packages. She has played critical roles in homeland security missions with state and federal authorities. She has also assisted the U.S. Secret Service in advance of presidential visits, checked for explosives at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and helped in the county's largest illegal fireworks seizure.
Lollie's replacement will come in August.
"The K-9 (that replaces Lollie) will go through the Connecticut State Police Bomb School with Detective Johnston (for training)," said Falco.
"It was my honor to serve alongside Lollie for nearly a decade. Together we responded to thousands of calls," said Johnston, who has been with the sheriff's office for 15 years. "I've always been confident in her work and appreciated her loyalty."
Of the other two bomb squad K-9s, Gunner and Gibson, Gunner is retiring in August and his replacement will come soon after to bring the number of bomb squad dogs back up to three. The new K-9s will come from grant money.
Lollie began her career as a Seeing Eye dog and came from the Southeastern Guide Dogs School in Florida. In January 2003, Johnston and Lollie were selected to attend the Main State Police Canine School for a 2-month training that was fully funded by the United States Department of Homeland Security.
The other two dogs part of the county's K-9 unit are Scooter, an arson dog, and Shadow, a search/drug dog.
"The (bomb squad) dogs go through the schools and you'll notice, there are not as many bomb threats any more because we go through the schools the night before," said Falco. "The Sheriff's Bomb Disposal Unit was formed in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks on our nation. This unit has a vital mission in protecting our families, critical infrastructure and mass transit systems. Since its inception, this unit has responded to thousands of calls, assisting every police department in the county and setting a beacon of professionalism within the bomb detection and disposal field. Lollie set the standard as our first K-9 and made our mission a successful one."