WHITE PLAINS – County Executive Robert P. Astorino and the FBI unveiled the newest member of the Westchester County police today – a cyber dog named Harley who is specially trained to sniff out thumb drives, SD cards, hard drives and other digital storage devices.
These storage devices often contain the critical evidence that law enforcement needs to investigate and prosecute a wide variety of crimes, ranging from financial fraud to child pornography to counter-terrorism cases.
“Harley, a 2-year-old Labrador retriever, is one of only a handful of electronic storage device detection canines in the nation,” Astorino said. “She is specially trained to locate hidden or discarded storage devices by detecting the chemical that is used to cool their memory chips.”
Astorino noted that a hallmark of his Safer Communities initiative was communication, cooperation and collaboration to provide critically needed services and support to Westchester’s communities. The addition of Harley, and her availability to law enforcement throughout Westchester and beyond, is another way that the county is working better and smarter to share vital resources, he said.
Harley and her handler, county police Detective Brett Hochron, will support the work of the FBI Cyber Crimes Division. In addition to working with the FBI, Harley will be used in county police investigations and whenever needed by any municipal police department in Westchester.
“We are pleased to bring this new and emerging capability to the Westchester County Police — and pleased to be able to share this great resource with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners,” Astorino said.
Astorino was joined today at the Westchester County Police Academy in Valhalla by FBI Special Agent in Charge Aristedes Mahairas of the New York Field Office. He said that Harley will be used when search warrants are executed to locate hidden devices, and she will be deployed at certain crime scenes when there is a search for discarded devices like cell phones.
“In the short time she’s been here, there’s no doubt Harley has won the hearts, and respect, of many within the FBI’s New York Field Office. And, as a matter of fact, she officially executed her first search warrant just last Friday. Poised and ready to take our cyber investigations to a new level, we look forward to all the future holds with the newest member of our team,” Mahairas said.
Harley and Hochron recently completed extensive training at the Connecticut State Police Academy before being assigned to the task force.
“Harley will locate hidden or discarded electronics more quickly and efficiently than human searchers can do,” Astorino said. “No doubt there will also be times that Harley will ferret out items that may have been well hidden and might otherwise have avoided detection.”
Police Commissioner George N. Longworth noted that the Harley adds yet another capability to the county police Canine Unit. Highly trained Labradors are used as narcotics, explosives and arson detection canines, while Bloodhounds are used to track lost persons or criminals who fled from a crime scene. “Harley is another great tool to assist our department and all of law enforcement in Westchester,” he said.
Astorino noted that Westchester County Police detectives are assigned to multiple federal-local task forces, including the FBI Joint Terrorist Task Force, FBI Violent Crimes Task Force, the FBI Organized Crime Task Force, DEA Tactical Diversion Squad, U.S. Marshals Regional Fugitive Task Force and the IRS Money Laundering Task Force.
“These task forces are force multipliers for us,” he said. “The investigators assigned to them have taken gang members, drug dealers and other violent criminals off our streets and kept our county safe.”
He added, “During my tenure as county executive, we have increased our county police participation on these and other task forces. I remain committed to maintaining these valuable partnerships. They are a critical way that we protect the people of Westchester.”