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K9 Sperr and K9 AJ
Greece, N.Y. --- The legend of New York State Trooper Andy A.J. Sperr continues to grow. And now two State Police K9s are helping to grow that legend.
Trooper Sperr was a Greece native and one of eleven children. He was killed in the line of duty in March 2006 when he confronted two armed gunmen in Chemung County, just outside of Elmira.
In keeping with tradition, the New York State Police named a K-9 dog after Sperr and about six and-a-half years ago K-9 Sperr hit the streets with his handler, Trooper Christopher Neidert.
"I was trying to do rough numbers, somewhere in the vicinity of 2,500 jobs he did (over his career) between tracking, narcotics detection, building searches, everything that the citizens need, Trooper Neidert said of his longtime partner.
"When he was two he was actually chasing after three burglary suspects in the Town of Brighton and he went over a fence in pursuit of the three suspects (and) then he injured his back, Neidert recalled. While Sperr recovered quickly and returned to active duty in a matter of months, the injury has taken its toll in older age.
At the end of 2013 K-9 Sperr, a Czechoslovakian Sheppard, will hang up the leash and officially retire. Replacing him will be K-9 A.J. who has trained with Trooper Neidert and Sperr for the last half-a-year. A.J. is a thirteen month-old Belgian Malinois who will officially begin duty next year.
"He learns a lot from Sperr especially when we're doing some narcotics detection and building searches, Trooper Neidert explained. He gets to watch and figure out how Sperr is doing it and then we bring him in there and let him watch Sperr and he seems to pick it up pretty quickly.
In retirement Sperr will continue to live with Trooper Neidert and his family where A.J. has become a fixture in the home with the Neidert children. Away from the job both are loyal and lovable companions, but on the job they are powerful police weapons trained in tracking and narcotics detection.
Together their resumes are attempting to stack up against that of their namesake who was nicknamed Superman even among his State Trooper peers. Andy and Jean Sperr, Trooper Sperrs parents, have been welcomed into the Trooper family and get occasional visits from Trooper Neidert and Sperr.
"It's just a great feeling that he didn't just die and be forgotten, that there are a lot of people who remember him, explained Jean Sperr. And we have been blessed with Chris Neidert because I couldn't ask for a better handler for a dog and he's really good!
The Sperrs and others have found ways to honor their sons name through fundraising events, a Sperr Memorial Park near the scene of his shooting, and through five scholarship funds in his name. (St. Lawrence Elementary School in Greece, Aquinas Institute, Monroe Community College, Elmira College, and Corning Community College.)
For Sperrs father its nice to know that bad guys out there can still fear the name A.J. Sperr."
I would certainly hope so, they're nothing but cowards anyhow, the elder Sperr chuckled. Knowing that he's out there does two things; it keeps some of those guys reigned in I hope and it keeps AJ's name alive, Andy's name alive.
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