RI police dogs join marathon security force

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Organizers of this year’s Boston Marathon say the police presence along the iconic route will be heavier than it’s ever been in the past. In addition to more than 3,000 police officers covering the city, race planners are also increasing the number of bomb-sniffing dogs that will be on-duty Monday morning.

Some of those include dogs are trained and reside right here in Rhode Island, including a black lab named Buster.

Buster, a 7-year-old veteran police K-9, is one of five bomb-sniffing dogs assigned to the Rhode Island State Police. He answers to Sgt. Matthew Zarrella, a K-9 commander with the state police.

“He’s a part of me,” Zarrella said about Buster. “He’s like my right arm.”

Buster came to Rhode Island last year after completing two tours in Afghanistan with the U.S. military. Zarrella said Buster learned valuable skills during his time overseas, but he needed to be trained in certain aspects of the job before starting with the police.

“He was well-trained in the military. We tweaked it a little bit to fit law enforcement a little more,” Zarrella said, adding that police work involves more on-leash work than does military action.

Buster and Zarrella are planning to travel to Boston Monday morning to help monitor the marathon route. The Massachusetts State Police requested assistance from other local departments in order to increase the security presence.

Eyewitness News reporter Andrew Adamson is covering this story this afternoon. He will have Buster’s full story tonight on Eyewitness News at 6.

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