NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — Normal Police Department welcomed its newest ‘paw’-cifer to the force.
Officer Olive is a black lab/coonhound mix and is the department’s new facility dog.
Paws Giving Independence, a Peoria non-profit, trained Olive and gave her to the Normal Police Department at no cost. Olive started with Normal PD back in September, but graduated from her training Tuesday night.
Unlike, traditional police dogs Olive is meant to be pet and loved on by everyone.
“Most people think of police dogs as very aggressive dogs, but she’s here to make people smile, that’s our goal for us is to allow people to feel more comfortable coming up and speaking with officers and also to get out into the community and assist us with making those connections,” said community services officer, Brad Park.
Park said Olive has already accompanied him to schools and other community outreach events.
“We’ve already seen instances where people have felt more comfortable coming up to us just because the dog was there; they want to pet the dog and ask questions. That allows us the opportunity to kind of have those open conversations with people,” Park said.
Olive also serves as a therapy for her human counterparts; officers can pet or play with Olive if they’re having a bad day or to de-stress in general.