ITHACA, N.Y. —  K9 Rex was casually laying, with his tongue out — next to police Officer Jamie Buffone as if a room full of people weren’t gathered  to watch him be officially sworn in as the second K9 to join the Ithaca Police Department. But when the ceremony started, he was rapt with attention.

“Rex came to s without any official skills training and is in the process of being trained as a narcotics detection and tracking K9,” police Chief John Barber said.

The 70-pound, German Shepherd is from the Czech Republic and was brought to the Ithaca Police Department in early March.

On May 27, he and Buffone graduated from a nine-week training program in Syracuse that focused on tracking and apprehension. Phase 2 of their training will be a seven-week program in late August when Rex will be trained as a narcotics detection K9.

Chief John Barber introduces Rex and Officer Jamie Buffone to a crowd of about 30 people.

Buffone and Rex are the second pair of K9 handlers to join the department since officer Pat Kimmich and K9 Bert reinvigorated the unit last summer after the department went about 10 years  without a K9 due to funding issues.

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“With the appointment of officer  as our second K9 handler, the IPD again makes history as Officer Buffone is the fist ever female K9 handler in the history of the Ithaca Police Department,” Barber said.

Buffone was selected as a handler after a physical fitness test, skills test, bite exposure and an oral interview in front of a panel of officers.

Before swearing in Rex, Mayor Svante Myrick said, “There’s of course something about a K9 officer — so selfless, so helpful — and they save time…they save lives.”

Myrick read to Rex, “Do you solemnly swear to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America and the state of New York  and faithfully discharged the duties of K9 officer of the Ithaca Police Department?”

Prompted by a round of applause from onlookers, Rex barked and became excited.

Buffone’s dad, John Buffone, placed Rex’s minuter police badge around his neck while Buffone’s mother Jean looked on from the audience.

Jolene Almendarez

Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at jalmendarez@ithacavoice.com; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.