Putting the bite on crime

“One of the strongest biters in the squad”: Senior Constable Luke Warburton and his Police Dog ‘Chuck’ who played his part in fugitive Malcolm Naden’s capture and arrest on March 22 by biting him on the leg. Photo: David Darcy.
“One of the strongest biters in the squad”: Senior Constable Luke Warburton and his Police Dog ‘Chuck’ who played his part in fugitive Malcolm Naden’s capture and arrest on March 22 by biting him on the leg. Photo: David Darcy.

Biting Malcolm Naden — one of Australia’s most wanted fugitives — during his capture on March 22 was just part of a day’s work for Blue Mountains-based Police Dog Chuck.

The three-year-old German shepherd’s proud handler, Senior Constable Luke Warburton from the NSW Police Dog Squad, said Chuck assisted with many searches and arrests since teaming up with him last October, “but this [Naden] was his most famous catch so far”.

The crime fighting duo were the subjects of a photo shoot in Katoomba and Wentworth Falls earlier this month by specialist dog photographer David Darcy, who is working on a book about working dogs.

Senior Constable Warburton told the Gazette he and Chuck, two other police dogs and officers from the Police Tactical Operations Unit (TOU) walked about four kilometres to a remote hut to the west of Gloucester on March 22 where intelligence suggested Naden had returned to.

“We’d surrounded the hut, the other two police dogs were near the front and Naden came running out the back entrance where I was,” he said.

“TOU officers were there and proceeded to capture and arrest him [Naden] and in the process Chuck was able to assist — he just came in and bit Naden on the leg to prevent any chance of him escaping.”

Naden was then charged with the murder of 24-year-old Kristy Scholes, who was found dead in the bedroom of a house in Dubbo in June 2005, two counts of aggravated indecent assault of a 15-year-old girl at Dubbo in 2004, and one count of shooting with intent to murder a police officer at Nowendoc on December 7, 2011.

“I think he [Chuck] knew something significant had gone on,” Senior Constable Warburton said.

“He did a good job and I gave him an extra bone that night.”

Police dogs completed an initial 16-week intense training course, lived with their handlers and continued to learn their trade while on the job until they retired at seven or eight, Senior Constable Warburton said.

“Every exercise Chuck performs has a different command and he is very responsive,” he said.

“But when he’s at home he knows the difference between a day off and working so he can just kick back and relax — he’s become part of the family.”

Mr Darcy, who runs his own Katoomba Street gallery shop and was the stills photographer for blockbuster Australian film Red Dog, said he was impressed with the working relationship between Senior Constable Warburton and Chuck.

“I could appreciate the way they [handlers] can get their dogs fired up one second and then calm the next by commands,” Mr Darcy said.

“Chuck is an alpha-male, very dominant and strong and other officers were telling me before that he is probably one of the strongest biters in the squad.

“I took some shots with Chuck just 30 centimetres from my face and the lens because I wanted to get some photos from the criminals’ perspective.

“[In that situation] you put your faith in the handlers.”