Distinguished Animal Award - K9 Frank and Officer Matthew Llewelyn
On Veterans Day, 2022, an 8-week-old chocolate Labrador puppy named Frank was sworn in by Greenfield Mayor Roxann Wedegartner as the newest member of the town’s Police Department. A comfort dog, Frank’s job is to deescalate mental health crises to which the department responds.
It takes one year to fully train a comfort dog and that process includes exposure to all types of people and scenarios, first at the police station, then at small community events. Once trained, Frank and his handler, Community Policing Officer Matthew Llewelyn, will work primarily with the department’s clinician to help defuse active behavioral health crises. Frank’s veterinary, food, and related expenses are paid for using drug forfeitures and cash seizures, as well as community donations.
When the program began a decade ago, Greenfield Police were the first comfort dog handlers in the country. And Frank has some big pawprints to fill. Clarence, the department’s longtime comfort dog, was euthanized a year ago because of health issues. Frank and Llewelyn use the same K9-fitted cruiser as the late Clarence.
Frank was named in honor of Frank Roche, the department’s first community policing officer. Roche, a Marine veteran who had served in Vietnam, worked with the Greenfield Police Department from 1976 to 1998. He died 24 years ago, and the department felt it was a fitting tribute to swear in his canine namesake on Veterans Day.
Frank was donated to the department by Boonefield Labradors in Rindge, New Hampshire, which specializes in breeding comfort and therapy dogs. According to Boonefield, Frank loves meeting new people. “He spends time at the local schools and nursing homes, and helps de-escalate patrol calls.” Frank’s sire, Hank, serves as a comfort dog for the Lunenburg Police Department.