‘K-9 is where I wanted to be’: Halifax police officer makes history as first female dog handler

HALIFAX — Const. Susan Conrad has just made history.

Conrad has been a member of the Halifax Regional Police for nearly 13 years and now has the distinction of being the first woman to be a member of the department’s K-9 unit.

It’s a dream she’s had since early in her career.

“I remember it was like the first week of class and they said, ‘where do you see yourself in 10 years?’ and for me, it was without question, K-9 is where I wanted to be,” said Conrad.

Becoming a K-9 handler is a long and extensive process. Before being accepted into the unit, Conrad volunteered for three years.

“I would have done it sooner, but I was building my family,” she said.

“I have two small girls and so that consumed a lot of my time and so as soon as I had my youngest child, it was, I think, six weeks maybe after I gave birth to her, I started to focus 100 per cent to get into this unit and it took a lot of dedication and hard work and a lot of volunteer hours but it was certainly worth it to be here today.”

Halifax Police Chief Dan Kinsella said it’s a momentous day for the force.

“It’s just a great day for policing, it’s a great day for Sue and we look forward to all her contributions to the greater K-9 team,” said Kinsella. “We want to have our community be reflected by the officers that work for us and people need to know there are opportunities. People need to know if their desire is to be a certain type of police officer, or work in a certain area, that that opportunity is there for them and this is a great example to show that it can be attained if it’s something you’re willing to work for. So, very proud day for me as the Chief.”

Conrad sees being the first female member of the HRP K-9 unit as an opportunity to give back.  

“There’s been so many females before me, decades before me that have gone through challenges and hurdles, you know, paving the way for people like me to make it a much more welcoming environment and I’m really experiencing that,” she said. 

“The guys on the team right now have been incredible, they’ve been so supportive and encouraging and so for me, to be able to lay a little bit of that pavement for the girls coming behind me is just, icing on the cake.”

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Conrad is still waiting for her new partner to arrive.

“It’s our hope that I will be imprinted into the unit before getting a dog and then I can really just job shadow and do the day-to-day activities with the handler that’s on, on that day. At that point, we hope that the borders open and we can finally get our dogs here,” she said.

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