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September 13th 2002
It's no dog's life for Milo
German Shepherds
The usual suspects - police dogs line up.
Since the 19th Century dogs have accompanied police officers at work.

Our reporter, Annabel Caulton, caught up with a real life Rin Tin Tin to find out more about one dog and his woman.
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FACTS

You have to have been a police constable for four years before you can apply to be a Derbyshire Police dog handler.

Most of Derbyshire Police's dogs are donations from the public. Some from families that can't cope with such a big animal or from broken homes. If you want to talk about rehoming a dog call 01332 290100 and ask for the dog handling unit.

At present all of the police dogs in Derby are male German Shepherds, they're agile, intelligent and powerful, a perfect combination according to Sgt Dolman who heads the unit in Derbsyhire.

Other breeds, Labradors, Spaniels and Weimaraner, are used for specialist areas like explosives and drugs.
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Meet Milo, he understands more than one language. He's an expert in narcotics, weapon and explosive detection. He's well known for his bravery - catching violent criminals is just part of the day job. A real life hero. In fact if he didn't have four legs, a wet nose and a slobbery tongue he'd be any discerning girls' perfect match, instead he's one woman's perfect partner.

Milo
Milo - he often gets mistaken for a wolf

Milo - a white German Shepherd - is one of Derbyshire Police's working dogs. Along with his handler, PC Rachel Swift, he is involved, as a matter of course, in rape and murder investigations as well as violent incidents and potentially explosive situations.

August 10th marked the first day of the 2002/3, first division football season. Although Derby beat their opponents, Reading, with a tremendous 3-0 win, the day was soured by Sheffield United fans who decided that an impromptu visit to Derby City centre would provide a spot of entertainment on their home journey from Stoke.

Rachel and Milo were the first ones on the scene:

"I was just leaving Peartree at 6.30 on an ordinary Saturday when I got the call requesting that I make my way to the train station. I got to Ivy Square and was requested to divert to Baroque - the old Coliseum - on London Road, there were reports of a fight".

Rachel couldn't have imagined what would await her:

"I was anticipating a normal fight, a couple of lads who'd got a bit excited. As I drove over the Traffic Street island I could see a large group of people, I radioed into base estimating about 60 people, later I was told that my guess was very conservative and there were actually between 100 and 150."

Milo
PC Rachel Swift and Milo

Startled by the van's two-tones and flashing lights the group ran off towards The Spot leaving a scene of devastation behind:

"There were smashed windows, bottles, glass everywhere. Milo could hear the noise outside the van and he went berserk."

The crowd stopped en-masse outside The Neptune pub on Osmaston Road, a notorious Derby County drinking hole. A combination of Derby fans inside and Sheffield Utd fans outside was a lethal combination:

"I could see a window go in, a chair flew over someone's head and a pub sign, there were bottles flying all around. I called for urgent assistance immediately. I had to do something though so I decided to drive the van into the crowd to try to separate the two groups, to put some distance between them."

In the midst of the chaos Rachel took Milo from the back of the van:

"Not many people want to argue with the dog and to be honest the two gangs were more focussed on each other than Milo and me. I was just doing my best to get us between the two groups and still calling for assistance. Milo's snapping out at anyone who gets too close to us, he latched onto a few jacket bottoms, coats, whatever's too near to his mouth."

PC Swift and Milo held the fort, alone, for three minutes according to CCTV footage:

"It felt like a lifetime, I was concerned about my dog's safety more than my own. There was glass all over the floor and I was worrying about the pads on his feet. And I was anxious because there was so many of them, if they rushed us we wouldn't stand a chance, Milo wouldn't know how to cope.

"Just then I heard the sirens and saw the blue lights, I felt myself sigh with relief."

Milo
Milo finds time for a spot of play

The transits and firearms unit arrived to assist Rachel and, after a chase through the city centre, and further assistance from on-foot PCs, more dogs and the police helicopter they managed to contain the rioters in the Peter Hilton Memorial Garden, in front of Derby's Council House.

"It was a real test for both Milo and myself, we've been working together for two years, he's only three-years-old and this was his biggest job. It's a real test of a dog and thankfully he has what it takes. Our trust in each other been proved worthy.

"Had I been an officer there on my own the situation would have been totally different - I wouldn't have got out of the van but I've got my dog and I don't advise that anyone argues with Milo."

 

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