Koda Chronicles: New police canine gets acquainted with campus, meets fellow Lakers

Students pet Koda.
Officer Kelsey Sietsema and Koda visited with students on the Allendale Campus.
Image Credit: Kendra Stanley-Mills

Koda, a new member of the Grand Valley Police Department, spent the day meeting fellow Lakers and getting hugs and scratches behind the ear from students as they moved into living centers on the Allendale Campus.

Koda, a K-9 explosives dog, will attend gatherings like football games, special events and large-scale student life events, offering additional safety mitigation measures for GVSU campuses, and allowing for greater connection, engagement and relationships with the campus community.

Student pets Koda.
Officer Kelsey Sietsema and Koda stop to visit with a student.
Image Credit: Kendra Stanley-Mills

Koda’s partner on the force, GVPD canine and community police officer Kelsey Sietsema, said the black Lab was very excited to meet President Philomena V. Mantella, the RAs, and all the students, faculty and staff who took a moment to say hello while walking on campus.

President Mantella greets Koda.
President Philomena V. Mantella greets Koda.
Kendra Stanley-Mills
Vice President Greg Sanial pets Koda.
Greg Sanial, vice president for Finance and Administration, meets Koda.
Kendra Stanley-Mills

When Koda is working, she wears a vest with the words, “Do Not Pet.” When she’s not working, she wears a vest with the words, “Ask to Pet.”

Sietsema and Koda have formed a strong bond. The canine’s favorite treat is doggie chicken strips (always located in Sietsema’s pocket) and her favorite item to play with is a pink, squeaky bubble gum-shaped toy.

Sietsema said Koda spent the last several weeks getting acclimated to campus buildings and Lubbers Stadium. The dog has been trained to detect explosives in bags or a building, but also has enhanced capabilities to detect moving odors in the air to track and identify people.

“We’ve been using training aids to conduct search exercises in open fields and in buildings on campus,” said Sietsema. “Koda will search and then sit right by where she detects the odor.”

Koda near the bleachers at Lubbers Stadium
Koda during a training exercise at Lubbers Stadium.
Image Credit: Kendra Stanley-Mills

In early June, we introduced Koda to the campus community and then showed you how she was adjusting to her new West Michigan home .