Former Officer Lenny O’Keefe has moved on from his days walking the beat to now walking Liberty, the Concord, New Hampshire, Police Department comfort dog.
O’Keefe and Liberty travel across the state as a team to help people suffering from trauma and other mental health problems, whether they are victims of abuse or first responders who suffer from PTSD.
Liberty, a yellow Labrador retriever, underwent rigorous training as a comfort dog to be able to provide a sense of calm and relief to those who have experienced significant trauma.
The human–dog pair mainly work with victims of violence, children, police veterans and officers.
“One of our duties is that we sit in on interviews with kids at a child advocacy center or with them before the interview, and we meet them right after the interview,” O’Keefe explained. “So if they’ve already met Liberty, that eases the anxiety of going in to talk to the police officer.”
O’Keefe first saw Liberty’s positive impact when interviewing two children who witnessed a deadly domestic incident.
Amid all of the chaotic bustling of hospital staff and police officers, Liberty remained calm and helpful to the children.
“We hung out in the hospital with those kids for the entire time they were there. They were being interviewed, the doctors were coming in,” O’Keefe said. “And I think everybody that was involved with that case that day, at one time or another, sat down with Liberty and had had a moment with Liberty, including the two kids.”
At the end of the day, the kids remembered the dog’s name.
Liberty also waits at the police station to greet officers coming back from calls who may have seen something disturbing. Officers have found that comfort dogs are a great relief.
The partnership between O’Keefe and Liberty began at Hero Pups, Inc. There, the former officer selected Liberty and guided her through a therapeutic training program. When she was just a year old, Liberty was sworn into the Concord Police Department.
O’Keefe also said that Liberty has become the face of the department.
“The fact that she’s a police dog and they see the police world in a positive light, I think that’s big, too,” O’Keefe said.
O’Keefe himself has been praised by co-workers for providing officers with mental health resources.
“He continues to find positive ways to impact everyone he comes in contact with, even during the darkest of times,” the co-worker said.
O’Keefe plans to work with Liberty until she retires at age 8.
“Liberty is that piece of unconditional love,” O’Keefe said. “Liberty doesn’t care who you are. She doesn’t care what just happened. She’s just going to be there for you.”