Two days on the job each week may not sound like much, but when it comes to Brewster Police Department’s K-9 unit, it’s enough to deter crime in the village.
Detective Patrick Frezza and K-9 Cezar came to the department in August of 2008, following several years with the Yonkers Police Department, where Frezza was a cop for more than two decades. The team now works Thursdays and Fridays, patrolling the village and lending itself to neighboring agencies, including state police, whenever possible.
“I’m very proud of that team,” Chief John DelGardo said. “When a criminal knows you have a tiny little village, not a great big city, a tiny little village with a dog, he [Cezar] is out there, he’s seen by everybody, everybody knows he’s out there.”
The unit’s presence is hard to miss in the village, especially on nice days when Frezza walks his partner up and down Main Street. The two have been a team since 2006, when Cezar was just starting his career, following extensive training.
That training has been nonstop. The unit attends required monthly sessions with Orange County Sheriff’s Office to review patrol and narcotic skills and brush up on obedience.
The team’s hard work has paid off. Cezar and Frezza took first place in the 2006 narcotics certification and trials, where K-9s must work in an effective pattern to find drugs in hotels or apartment buildings. That competition saw 20 K-9s from several different counties, Frezza said. The same year the unit also took second place in a similar competition geared at patrol.
Despite a seven-month break between the Yonkers and Brewster departments, the team, a member of the United States Police K-9 Association, won the 2010 narcotics trials.
“He [Cezar] went right back into things,” Frezza said.
Because they are a team, Cezar is protective of his partner, whether they are on the job or at home. If Cezar is waiting for Frezza in the police car and someone approaches the vehicle with him, he starts barking aggressively. Once Frezza takes Cezar out of the police car, his personality changes. He is still protective of his partner, but he knows the difference between home and work.
“As soon as he gets in the car, he knows we’re doing something,” Frezza said. “Once I take him out of that police car and we go home, he’s a pet, he’s just a regular dog.”
But when they are on the job, Cezar follows Frezza whenever possible.
“Wherever I go, he goes,” he said. “He almost steps on the back of my heels. I don’t mind, he’s my partner. He would die [for me].”
Cezar is Frezza’s third police dog, so he is used to the extra care that comes with having such a partner. That care ranges from strategically parking the police car to bringing him for check-up visits at the veterinarian. While the Village pays for Cezar’s food and medical needs, Dutchess County Animal Hospital covers a large percentage of Cezar's doctor bills.
"I just had him checked out," Frezza said. "He's in good shape."