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Albany County Sheriff swears in four new Mohawk Hudson Humane Society Peace Officers

The Mohawk Hudson Humane Society
Dave Lucas
The Mohawk Hudson Humane Society

Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple swore in four Mohawk Hudson Humane Society staff members as Peace Officers today.

The four recently completed Peace Officer Training through the Albany County Sheriff Office’s Public Safety Institute. Mohawk Hudson Humane Society CEO Ashley Jeffrey Bouck:

“Each of these individuals has a primary position here, so they have taken on this training to serve a dual role," said Bouck. "The training is rigorous, and includes over 160 hours of coursework and areas including procedural law, search and seizure, crisis intervention and defense tactics to name a few. Becoming a police officer enhances their position and also gives us depth as we need to respond to emergencies. In just three years, we went from having no peace officers to now, we will have eight peace officers here.”

Bouck says the new officers will allow MHHS to help more animals and more people in two key ways.

“The first is when law enforcement or animal control partners reach out to us with cruelty and neglect cases, we can respond with more staff who are trained to perform seizure, removal and documentation," said Bouck. "Caring for ‘court case animals’ consumes significant time and resources. In 2021, we had 217 animal seizures, typically a third of our dog population that we have here at the shelter at any time, about 30 dogs are being held in our care for legal reasons. Secondly, in addition to supporting law enforcement, our goal is for our humane law enforcement team to become a more visible resource for our Capital Region community.”

Sheriff Apple swore in new peace officers Tegan Barron-Shashok, Nikki Gagnon, Katya Hartzell and Bree Seltzer, congratulating them on their accomplishment, which he said was "no easy chore."

“They had to come out to our institute, take classes, some of the classes, we blended them in with our Deputy Sheriff recruits that are out there taking classes," said Apple. "Others we've put in with correction officers that are over at the jail taking classes, but it's no easy task there, it's very rigorous. There's a lot of bookwork. There's a lot of lecture time. And then of course, there's some physical agility that we try to blend into it. And so I congratulate you on it. You're actually our first peace officer class I believe to go through, so it's pretty cool too, so we appreciate you.”

Gagnon, who is Community Outreach Manager at the center, says the badge is a game-changer.

“I've been able to go out on animal cruelty calls before, in the past, but before it was more in a logistical, assisting logistical support kind of a role," Gagnon said. "I would be able to help safely get animals off the property. But now that we have our Peace Officer status, we can make arrests if need be, and start to build a case and possibly press charges for animal cruelty, if that's the route that we want it to go.”

To learn what to do in the case of suspected animal cruelty or neglect, visit https://mohawkhumane.org/animal-cruelty-investigations.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.