A London police dog who has been in his job for less than 12 months has already helped to rid the streets of drugs and knives, as well as helping his handler get back to full health following a car accident.
Two-year-old Labrador Elvis licensed with his handler, PC Colin Nash, in March 2020, as a passive and proactive detection dog. He was bred by the Metropolitan Police before joining the City of London Police Dog Unit.
At the inaugural Thin Blue Paw Awards – held at Knebworth House on 14 September by the Thin Blue Paw Foundation supported by Animal Friends Insurance – Elvis was named as the winner of the Rising Star award; celebrating the achievements of a newly licensed (within 18 months) police dog.
PC Nash, 54, has worked for the City of London Police for almost 30 years; 12 as a special constable and 17 years as an officer and dog handler.
PC Nash – who lives in Suffolk, with his partner and his 10-year-old son, his retired springer spaniel, Ben, and explosives detection dog, springer spaniel Eddie – said: “I was born in the East End and I love working in London. I knew I wanted to be a police officer from a young age and, as soon as I joined the force, I knew I wanted to work in either the dog unit, mounted unit or in firearms.
“I had a go with a gun and I couldn’t hit the side of a barn, the horse trod on my foot and here I am, 15 years later, with dogs; I definitely made the right choice. Now, with Elvis by my side, I cannot wait to get up and go to work with him; what we do is important.”
The duo work in the City of London square mile protecting the large banks and businesses, as well as working at the Old Bailey courthouse and transport hubs, where they detect drugs, weapons and help crackdown on county lines drugs.
“In the City we have a transient drug issue; people come in carrying drugs so a lot of our work involves working at train stations and searching vehicles,” PC Nash said. “We work closely with British Transport Police and with the Met and, unfortunately, where you find drugs, you also find knives.
“Elvis has a phenomenal nose, he has around an 85-90% success rate of finding something when he indicates. He’s one of the best. Once he indicated and we searched a man getting off the train and found 42 wraps of cocaine in his underpants; another time he led us to an older gentleman and we found half a kilo of cannabis in his bike panniers!
“Sometimes just his presence is enough. A young man came up the escalator and saw us at the top, turned around and started walking back down which seemed suspicious to us. When we searched him we found a large knife. Elvis is helping to keep people safe and keep dangerous substances and weapons off of the street.
“Elvis is a big dog but he isn’t frightened of getting into small spaces; it’s quite a sight watching him trying to get under the steering wheel of a Mini!”
The pair also spend time visiting schools and local community groups for ‘chats and pats’ educating young people about drugs and giving demonstrations.
After working with a number of German shepherds and springer spaniels, Elvis was PC Nash’s first Labrador and that was a bit of a learning curve. He said: “Elvis is a bit unruly but he is such a character. He has no manners but perhaps that’s what makes him a good search dog! Although it can be a little embarrassing when he puts his nose in someone’s handbag!
“Once, we were working at a train station, and he got a whiff of someone’s takeaway as they passed and he grabbed at the bag causing £35 worth of chicken and chips to fall onto the floor! I wanted the ground to open and swallow me; it was so embarrassing! That day was a learning curve; I’d never had a Labrador before!”
The loyal pup has helped PC Nash at home as well as at work. When he was involved a car accident and was signed off work, Elvis helped his handler get back onto his feet. PC Nash added: “Come rain or shine the dogs have to go out; Elvis got me out and kept me going.
“He’s so young and, because of time out after my accident, he’s only been doing this for just over 12 months but he’s so good, I’m in awe of him sometimes. I’d be out of a job if he could drive! With more experience and more training he can only get better; and I feel incredibly lucky to be his partner and to have him helping to protect the people of London.”
Inspector James Minney of the City of London Police said: “PC Nash and PD Elvis absolutely deserve this accolade. In the short time they have been working together at the City of London Police, they have made some excellent stops, resulting in items such as drugs and weapons being removed from the streets.
“Our Police Dog unit is an integral part of how we police the Square Mile, and also a much loved part of the City of London Police family. They provide a wide range of services from public order support to digital detection, helping find items such as mobile phones and laptops using their extraordinary noses.
“Elvis has been a fantastic new addition to our Force and our community, and I know we will see great things from both him and PC Nash in the future.”
Kieran Stanbridge, trustee of the Thin Blue Paw Foundation – a national dog welfare charity that supports and celebrates working and retired police dogs – said: “Elvis has showed incredible instinct and talent for his job, and is clearly making a real difference on the streets of London. He is helping the police take drugs out of circulation and get dangerous weapons off of the streets.
“Given his age and the short amount of time he’s been operational, I think we’re yet to see big things from Elvis and Colin; the future looks very bright for this paw-some pair!”