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Stonington - There was a changing of the guard at a meeting of the Board of Police Commissioners Thursday as the town's first K-9 team was honored for its service and replacements were officially sworn in.
Officer Greg Howard and his German shepherd, Fritz, have been on the job for the past six years, but it is now time for 8-year-old Fritz to retire.
He is being replaced by Odin, who just completed 10 weeks of rigorous training at the state police academy with new K-9 officer Earl Palmer.
Police Chief J. Darren Stewart called Howard and Fritz the trailblazers for the town's successful K-9 program.
He said they not only increased the safety of the public, but fellow officers as well.
"They were certainly a great team," said Stewart, adding they not only worked on cases here but helped surrounding police departments as well.
From a public relations perspective, Stewart said Fritz and Howard made countless appearances in front of community groups and at schools and special events.
"That really put the police department in a good light," he said. "Fritz had the perfect temperament to go into the schools. It worked out very well."
He said the Stonington Animal Hospital and numerous residents have been very generous in making donations to the K-9 program since it's inception. Fritz will continue to live with Howard.
- Joe Wojtas