New Campus Police Officer and Police Dog Hired

Elissa Sanci

She’s all over campus; she’s cute, she’s friendly, and she loves to be around people. You can find her walking around campus, and, if you don’t approach her first, she’ll probably come to you.

Photo Provided by Samantha Mathewson
Photo Provided by Samantha Mathewson

She’s Nia, Officer Jodi Novella’s police dog.Officer Novella was hired at the University of New Haven July 1, 2013 to be a part of the Campus Police Department as a part time officer. Novella and her yellow Labrador retriever, Nia, recently retired from the New Haven Police Department in June 2013, where Novella had been an officer for 15 years, spending the last five with Nia.

Originally, Nia trained to become a guide dog for Guiding Eyes for the blind, but, because of constant ear infections, wasn’t fit for the job. However, the Connecticut State Police K-9 Unit works closely with Guiding Eyes, taking the dogs that don’t complete the program.

Nia was put through a pilot program and found her niche with narcotics. She was then bought by the Connecticut State Police narcotics department and began her training as a police dog.

“Many people have the misconception that all police dogs are vicious and mean,” Novella said. “I’m here with Nia to teach the students that not all police dogs are trained for the same purposes.”

The UNH Campus Police Department hired Nia for educational purposes, with the intent of teaching students interested in Criminal Justice about police dogs and K-9 units.

“UNH is known for Criminal Justice and it’s nice for students to get hands on learning experiences with a police dog,” Novella said. “It’s a subject not many people are familiar with, and even students who aren’t CJ majors have asked to sit in on my presentations.”

Novella has been working on a presentation with the Bethel Residential Assistant staff over the past few weeks. Novella’s presentation, the first of which was Tuesday, Oct. 1, consists of a PowerPoint that covers the different types of K-9 police dogs, the training that both the dogs (although they can provide both services)and K-9 handlers go through, and some of the larger cases Novella and Nia took on during their time with the New Haven Police Department.

Novella said she’s willing to give her presentations to anyone who asks her to present; she said she’d go dorm to dorm and club to club, teaching those who are interested in learning about Nia and police dogs in general. This is one of the best to find more info

Although Nia is trained to detect narcotics, she is here for educational purposes first. However, as Novella said, she’s alert to narcotics even when she isn’t prompted to search. “It’s what she’s trained for,” she said. “That’s a part of her that can’t be turned off.”

“We aren’t here to search dorms, or go looking for drugs,” Novella said. “We’re here to interact with the students and to teach them, but if she happens to find something, we’ll act upon it accordingly. If it happens, it happens, but we’re not looking for anything.”

Novella feels it’s important for students to learn about police dogs, and wants to dispel the myth that all police dogs are attack dogs. “A lot of kids want to go into policing, but don’t have a lot of experience with police dogs,” she said.

“Nia loves it here on campus,” Novella said. “It’s a different environment than she’s used to, and she loves interacting with the students. She’s treated well here.”