INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Wellness Unit has several members - including one with four paws.
Allie, an English lab, came to IMPD in March 2020 and is around a year and a half old. Her handler, IMPD patrolman Robert Turner, describes her as very social and laid back. So far, Allie has interacted with officers more than 50 different times.
When IMPD officer Breann Leath was killed on April 9, 2020, Allie was there to help officers.
“It helps officers for that short period of time to let go of whatever they’re thinking, whatever they’re feeling at the time and just engage with her,” Turner said. “She loves to be pet on … and she lets people rub on her belly.”
Turner and Allie also work with public safety agencies across Indianapolis. Turner says he enjoys being able to help others and looks forward to bringing Allie where she is needed, including to work at the wellness unit. The two work out of an office and Allie follows Turner wherever he goes.
“Now, when [officers] come in it can kinda ease the tension for them coming in and then they’re a little bit more comfortable in speaking with us,” Turner said. “Anything we can do to help our officers and our officer’s families, we want to kind of be out in the forefront.”
Turner has heard from other departments wondering about how they can get a therapy dog.
“I think the most that I get out of it is when she engages with kids,” Turner said. “It’s been rewarding of course … just to see the reactions and the feedback that I get that ‘Allie’s done this for us.’”
IMPD officer Genae Cook says with Allie, Indianapolis is setting an example on how to bring others in to help officers relieve stress from their job.
“We’re looking at many different ways in which we can help our officers and those in the community ... there’s not just people who are officers that are affected [at a scene], there are assisting units from other agencies,” Cook said. “These are just ways in which not only are we striving to help our officers, but we’re also building community connections.”