Handler: Officer Paul Bryant
Philadelphia Police Department
K-9 Police Academy - Canine Unit
Region 6 Officer Paul Bryant & K9 Azeem - Philadelphia, PA
On 11-13-2003 the Philadelphia Police Homicide and West Detective Division were investigating a report of a missing male.
Azeem and his partner, canine trainer Paul Bryant, 47, were recognized for their work in a high-profile murder investigation in 2002: Azeem, trained to detect cadavers, found the body of a New Jersey mother entombed in a Society Hill apartment building.
Immediately after the World Trade Centers
were attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, Bryant
, Azeem and the Philadelphia K-9 Corps
began checking Philadelphia's landmarks to prevent terrorist attacks here.
Later in the week, while authorities were still searching for survivors in New York, Bryant
put Azeem to work there.
"TV didn't show anything what it was really like," Bryant
said during an interview in 2002.
"It didn't show all the policemen, the firemen.
It didn't show the grown men crying.
On the first anniversary of the attacks, Azeem and Bryant
were honored at Veteran's Stadium.
, accompanied by his
canine partner, threw the first ball at a Phillies' game.
That year, Bryant
and Azeem were recognized for their performances, including their work in a high-profile murder.
Scent training, explains Officer Paul Bryant, head trainer at the canine unit, starts with white towels.
The handler and dog play with the towel.
Then, the handler hides the towel for the dog to find.
Eventually, the towel is sprinkled with black powder - for explosives training - or wrapped around pouches of marijuana - for drug detection.
The trainers, who have Drug Enforcement Agency
(DEA) licenses, plant more potent drugs - cocaine, crack, heroin and methamphetamine - in closed containers.
When the dog picks up the scent of, say, heroin, he's
"You've just imprinted his
olfactory sense with heroin," Bryant
A couple of years ago, Bryant's dog, Azeem, a longhaired, black-and-tan shepherd with strong German lines, became Philadelphia's first dog trained to find dead bodies, one of an exclusive group nationwide that specializes in the job.
These dogs can sniff out tissue that's 6 months old, bones that have been buried for 2 years and body parts that are underwater.
of the work he
does with Azeem: "I do it for closure.
If I can help one family say good-bye to someone, if I can do that for one family..." he
admits, it's gruesome.
But the payoff makes it all worthwhile.