Uniformed officers and their furry best friends from Wall Township and Monmouth and Burlington Counties are among 20 newly-minted K-9 teams joining squads around the shore and the state.

Three trainers also became certified at Thursday's ceremonies in the New Jersey State Police Canine Training Academy in Sea Girt. After the ceremony, officers and dogs demonstrated their new skills in criminal apprehension, narcotic and explosive detection and obedience.

The patrol classes that began 18 weeks of training in October 2011 took training in agility, tracking, criminal apprehension and obedience. Scent classes that started in March of this year taught the dogs how to sniff out drugs and explosives.

The state police canine training program began in 1987 during the formation of the statewide Narcotics Task Force. In 2012 alone, say officials, teams have been involved in 1,067 criminal investigations and 618 explosives searches, and helped recover more than $2,000,000 in drugs and illicit money.

Local graduates include:

  • Monmouth County Sheriff's Officer Anthony Muscarella and "Nanook"
  • Wall Township Patrolman Ian Hatch and "Sable"
  • Burlington County Sheriff's Officer Monica Clark and "Scotti"