Temple University police officer, K9 officer look forward to patrol school graduation
Temple Police Officer Jesse Camponelli and K9 Officer Falko are halfway through patrol school. The dynamic duo is expected to start patrolling campus early next year.
On a cloudy Friday morning at a training course for police dogs and their handlers, the Temple Police Department’s newest K9, Falko, launched himself over a four-foot fence as his handler, Temple Police Officer Jesse Camponelli, ran alongside and gave commands.
“Good boy!” Camponelli both told and showed Falko at the end of the course as he graciously pet his four-legged friend.
Together, the two are midway through patrol school at the Philadelphia Police Academy, where they are learning everything from apprehending suspects to performing article searches and more.
“He’s learning to read me, and I’m learning to read him,” said Camponelli.
Falko is an energetic two-year-old German shepard, who joined Temple’s Department of Public Safety as its second K9 and is expected to graduate from patrol school in January.
“Ever since I became a police officer, it’s been my dream to become a K9 handler, so I’m very blessed for that,” Camponelli said.
Lt. Paul Perez, of the Philadelphia Police Department, is helping to train Falko at the police academy.
“Just having Falko on campus is going to give students and staff the sense of assurance they are safe. And, Falko is an awesome dog,” said Lt. Perez.
Temple’s Department of Public Safety has a second K9 named Chandler – a nine-year-old German Shepard who is trained in explosives and apprehensions.
Chandler has been working on campus for more than six years with his handler, Temple Police Officer Natalie Sherman, CLA ’12.
“I’m extremely proud to say that I’m a Temple alumni. Now that I work here, I’m afraid I’m never going to get away,” joked Sherman, who earned her degree in criminal justice.
The Philadelphia native also said she has been a huge animal lover since she was a little girl. She feels lucky she gets to work “with her best friend every day.”
Sherman has worked in the department for about a decade.
When asked what advice she would give Camponelli and K9 Falko as they prepare to graduate patrol school, she said: “Trust your dog, no matter what. That’s really important.”
Vice President for Public Safety Jennifer Griffin agreed.
“K9 Falko and Officer Camponelli make a great team and they’re an important addition to Public Safety. I’m excited to see them back on campus after they graduate early next year,” she said.
Graduation can’t come soon enough, said Camponelli.
“I’m really excited to be back on campus and see the students, faculty, store owners and especially my co-workers,” he said.
He added that Falko is more than a member of the Temple community. He is also a member of Camponelli’s family.
"I have two children at home," Camponelli said. "When we get home and off duty, he knows we are off duty and goes right into pet mode. My kids use him as a body pillow."
In addition to K9 Falko, Temple has made many other upgrades on campus, including a new safety initiative that increases officer foot patrols. There are also more than 300 surveillance cameras on rental properties around campus than last year after the university launched a new security program.