Canines creating community

“Bridging the gap between the community and the police”


Kaitlin Geisler

UW-W Police Officer Justin Stuppy poses for a quick pic with canine Tilla before the Homecoming Football Game Oct. outside Perkins Stadium Saturday, 29, 2022.

Katie Popp, Assist. Campus Editor

“Having the dogs helps us communicate better with the public. They help bridge that gap between the community and the police,” said UW-Whitwater Canine Police Officer Justin Stuppy, while his canine partner Tilla happily jumped at bees outside of Perkins Stadium Saturday, Oct. 29.

The UW-Whitewater campus police has two canines within their unit: Truus and Tilla. Both currently six years old, they have been with the UW-W unit for about four years. Truus is trained to sweep large venues for any threats during any major events. Back when Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers visited Whitewater at the end of September, it was Truus who ensured the safety of the event. Tilla is trained in narcotics tracking, apprehension, and searching for lost or missing individuals.  

UW-W Police Lieutenant Kelsey Servi and Officer Justin Stuppy with their canines Truus and Tilla.

“They love to engage with the community as much as they can when they aren’t officially working, of course,” said Lieutenant Kelsey Servi. 

When they are not officially working, the canines are often at community events such as the Ghoul’s Night Event hosted by the Whitewater Chamber of Commerce on Oct. 27, interacting with members of the community and campus.

“They’re also great service dogs as far as support,” said Stuppy. “No one really wants to approach police officers, but when we have the dogs, they are more likely to approach us and communicate.”

As of recently, the UW-Whitewater canine unit has had the opportunity to receive a grant from Aftermath K9 Grant for up to $15,000. As a small organization, the K9 unit is hoping for some outside funding.

“K-9 units can be costly to operate and maintain within police departments,” said Servi.  “A grant helps us ensure that we have the funds to properly maintain and operate the K-9 unit at the highest level. Items that have to be considered with K-9 unit operations are training aids and equipment for the dogs, routine medical costs or any unexpected medical emergencies, vehicles for the K9’s, training for the K9s and their handlers, equipment to outfit the squads to ensure the K9s safety.” 

UW-W Police Canines Truus (left) and Tilla.

As of now, a majority of the funding for the unit is primarily donations. The additional funding for necessary equipment and training would highly benefit the canines and handlers who work hard to protect the UW-Whitewater campus and community.

“Why do they deserve it? Because they’re the cutest puppies ever!” said Stuppy. “We’re a smaller agency, so we don’t get a lot of funding from the state.”

Although official voting has already ended, the canine unit is still up for the grant. Above all, it is important for all members of the Whitewater community to understand the importance of the canines and their role in ensuring the safety of all students, staff, faculty, and visitors throughout time on campus.

“They’re working dogs, so when they’re working people don’t approach them. But they are the gap,” concluded Stuppy. “ They love to be pet and to say ‘hi’ to people. If you see us walking around, ask to say ‘hi’ to the dogs and we’ll be more than happy to talk with you.”