The Metropolitan Police has welcomed seven newborn puppies in memory of a police officer killed in the line of duty.
Sergeant Matt Ratana was shot in the chest at Croydon Custody Centre, in south London, in the early hours of September 25 last year as he prepared to search a handcuffed suspect.
Commissioner Cressida Dick has visited the Met’s Dog Training Establishment at Keston to meet the “Ratana litter” alongside Sergeant Ratana’s partner Su Bushby, who chose their names in tribute to him.
The German Shepherd puppies have now been allocated to handlers in order to start a 12-month training course to become fully licensed police dogs.
Their parents are police dogs Prada Van Der Daeienberghuhe “Storm” and Pascalz OBA Magnum Nitra “Pax”.
The seven names chosen by Ms Bushby are Matiu, Carter and Jonah for the males, and Kora, Blu, Valentine and Whanau for the females. The New Zealand-born policeman’s full first name was Matiu and the other puppy names include Maori words for an unfurling fern frond and family.
It is anticipated that the Ratana litter will first hit the streets in around three months’ time.
As general purpose police dogs, they will spend most of their days tracking human scent, helping to find suspects and locating weapons such as guns and knives.
All Met police dogs live at home with their police officer handlers and their families.
This litter, like all German Shepherd police dogs, is expected to retire at about eight years old.
Commissioner Dick said: “I was delighted that we asked Su to name the puppies and that we were able to welcome them together to the Met in readiness for their puppy training and eventual police training.
“Matt was much loved and respected and this is just one of the ways for the Met to acknowledge and remember his service and courage.
“These puppies will one day be fully trained police dogs, out at all hours of the day and night, looking for missing people and criminals and searching for weapons.
“These police dogs and their handlers are invaluable.
“Many criminals would escape justice and crucial evidence remain undetected, if not for their assistance. Because of their work, the streets of London are kept much safer.”