This role is held by one sworn officer, and one Justice Facility Dog.
Sgt. Froh – Canine Assisted Response and Education (CARE) Officer
K9 Merlot – Justice Facility Dog (JFD)
Their primary duty is to assist children that attend the Regina Children’s Justice Center (RCJC). In most cases, these children are required to describe a traumatic event – a comforting dog by their side makes it possible for many children to feel safe enough to tell adults in the legal system what happened.
An Accredited Justice Facility Dog (JFD) is a professionally trained assistance dog, suitable for providing quiet companionship to vulnerable individuals in legal settings without causing any disruption. They are working dogs that are specially chosen because of their calm demeanor and ability to work in a high stress environment. Merlot assists with the following:
- Reduce the blood pressure and lower the heart rate of an individual
- Provide a healthy and positive distraction to overwhelming traumatic reactions
- Act as a tool to assist individuals who struggle to communicate, particularly children or persons with disabilities
- Help to normalize traumatic situations
- Act as a calming influence with people who may be agitated or highly emotional
- Provide a source of cathartic touch
Sgt. Froh and Merlot assist other police investigators where requested and appropriate, and with consent of the child. Once a meeting or interview is arranged, Sgt. Froh and Merlot will meet the individuals upon their arrival at the center or police station – providing a positive first contact experience. The handler will not discuss the file before entering the interview room. The handler however, will observe how the individual interacts with the dog upon first meeting. If there is no connection with the dog, or if the individual decides that they don’t like or want the dog present, the main investigator will continue with the interview. The handler can remain as the interview monitor.
If deemed appropriate, Sgt. Froh will interview the individual and the investigator will monitor. In the interview room, the individual will be provided with the option of where he/she would like Merlot placed.
Merlot will typically follow an individual from the time they have their first meeting/interview to the completion of a file – sometimes for years before trial is concluded. This includes the following:
- Interview of the child
- Follow up visits
- Attending to the Child Abuse Clinic for medical appointments
- Working together with Victim Services provider for follow up visits
- Court preparations with the Court Victim/Witness Specialist and Crown Prosecutors
- Attending court with the victim/witness while they testify in court (from the stand inside the courtroom or from the soft room via video)
- Attending sentencing hearings
Working out of the RCJC with children is the JFD’s primary role; however, the JFD is also available to assist anyone in Regina who has been a victim or witness of crime and/or trauma. Merlot is also available to assist with Critical Incident Stress Management Debriefs internally with Regina Police Service members.