GOFFSTOWN — Police were out in full force on Saturday — not on an emergency call, but on hand to welcome residents to the department's open house.
Chief Patrick Sullivan said several hundred people stopped by to tour the police station, enjoy free barbecue food, listen to music and enjoy many activities during the four-hour event. He was pleased with the turnout and having a chance to meet the people he serves every day.
"I gave tours non-stop from 1 to 3 (p.m.)," he said. "We've had a range of people come through here. It's good for children because they can meet us and put a friendly face to the officers. For adults, it's an opportunity to see the tools we need to do the job."
There was an array of things to do for adults and children, including hearing local rock band Nimbus 9, taking part in a doughnut-eating contest, meeting a Shetland pony from UpReach Therapeutic Riding Center, finger-printing for child identification cards courtesy of Crispin's House, watching Goffstown police K-9 and New England K-9 search and rescue demonstrations, seeing classic police cars courtesy of Merrimack D.A.R.E. and the Dunbarton police department, face-painting and air-brush body art, and getting familiar with Goffstown's Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT, and other local organizations.
Children seemed mesmerized during the K-9 and rescue dog demonstrations as well.
Goffstown officer Jason Hull and his K-9 partner, Cyrus, a 2-year-old German shepherd, performed agility, command and retrieval skills, but what received more applause was the dog's mock attack on Sgt. Chris Weeks.
Donning a bite sleeve over the length of his arm, Weeks braced himself as Cyrus leaped over a hurdle in attack mode and ripped the sleeve off.
"Dogs can bite with a force of 800 to 1,200 pounds per square inch," Weeks said, answering a question from the audience. "They are trained to bite one spot and hold in one position. We're not here to harm anyone."
Handler Donna Larson, of New England K-9 search and rescue, brought along search dog Haven and retired K-9 Eli. On command, it took Haven just about a minute to search for and find Kim Saari, who was hiding in a bush.
"She uses the air to find a missing person. It doesn't matter if there are other people around. The dogs are trained to find an out of place human through scent," said Larson.
The dog, she said, returns to the handler once the human is found, tells of his find and takes the handler to the location. The dog wears a bell, which calms the missing person and is used to locate the dog in the dark.
In addition, Clem Hamilton, of the New Hampshire Police Academy, demonstrated a simulation of a roll-over accident. As the vehicle spun, an unbuckled passenger dummy flew out of the car window.
"We find the simulator works best when two are buckled and the other dummies are not. When the kid dummy falls out, it opens people's eyes," said Hamilton.
The police department will soon be gearing up for its community events next year.
"My goal is to have two events every year. This year, we took part in the National Night Out, and the communications division wanted to do the open house," Sullivan said.