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Tuesday, Sep 8, 2015

Berkshire Farm Center Conducts Police Dog Training on Canaan Campus

For Immediate Release
8 September 2015
Media Contact: Kevin Robinson

CANAAN, N.Y. — A dozen police dogs from the New York State Police and other agencies tested their skills at an unannounced training exercise this morning at the Berkshire Farm Center’s residential treatment center in Canaan. The exercise was designed to give the canines and their handlers real-world experience at searching residences, grounds, woods, and a range of building types.

Berkshire Farm Center Director of Residential Programs, Anthony Jones, pauses while discussing the canine search exercise with Trooper Joshua Taylor and K9 Cunni of the New York State Police.

“Our campus has 2000 acres and contains very diverse set of structures and uses,” explained Timothy Giacchetta, President and CEO of Berkshire Farm Center and Services for Youth. “Periodically, we work with the state police to train their dogs here because it offers them a realistic setting that also carries very little risk for the dogs or the officers.” Giacchetta added that Berkshire’s leadership has been working to schedule the training for several months.

The training kicked off at 10 a.m. with dogs and officers fanning out across the campus to search the woods, residential cottages, grounds, and other campus buildings. The dogs are trained to sniff out contraband. Although only a training exercise, Berkshire and the State Police agreed early on that any illegal substances found on the property would be confiscated and subject to further investigation to determine their provenance.

The dogs found no drugs or other contraband during the two-hour search of the campus.

“This exercise was beneficial both for the state police and Berkshire,” Giacchetta said. “By continuing to work together, our organizations benefit from improved communication and knowledge of how each organization functions. By working together we can enhance the safety of our students, staff, and the broader Canaan community. We already have begun planning additional exercises for the future.”

Accountability is a cornerstone of Berkshire’s programs and a key teaching in its classrooms and residential cottages. Giacchetta said that Berkshire is about second, third, and even fourth chances; however, the organization is dedicated to holding its students accountable for their actions.

“Violence, abuse, and trauma are the only things that many of our students know” Giacchetta explained. “They come from families disrupted by drug abuse, alcoholism, and the effects of poverty, and they do not have good role models for managing stress.”

He explained that changing how youth perceive and react to the world around them takes time and patience. Berkshire focuses on teaching its youth new ways to cope with the life’s challenges while allowing them to experience the negative effects of poor choices.

“If some cases, experiencing the effects means having to pay to replace a broken window or damaged equipment,” he added. “If our students break the law, we allow them to experience the legal system and frequently request that police press charges as a way to reinforce that lesson.

“Our emphasis on responsibility and accountable makes it crucial that we have a strong working relationship with the state police, the sheriff’s department, and other law enforcement and social service agencies throughout New York. We are grateful to them for their ongoing help and cooperation.”

About Us:
Berkshire Farm Center and Services for Youth is New York’s largest child welfare organization, serving thousands of youth and families from Plattsburgh to Long Island and from Buffalo to Albany. An independent, non-profit organization, Berkshire provides a host of programs ranging from prevention services designed to help families stay together through difficult circumstances to foster care, group homes, residential treatment, and secure detention. Berkshire is headquartered on the campus of its residential treatment center in Canaan, N.Y.


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