Harris Sr.

HARRY A. HARRIS SR. was born around 1938. After serving in the United States Navy he joined the Camden Police Department in 1962. He served for 28 years, most notably as a Sergeant in charge of the city's K-9 Unit in the 1970s and early 1980s. He was instrumental reviving the Department's K-9 unit. While working in the K-9 unit he partnered with police dogs Wolf, Nero, and Paco.

The Camden Police has had K-9 units at different periods in its long and distinguished history. The unit was formed after William Neale was appointed Chief of Police on August 1, 1960. The K-9 Unit was first commanded by Sergeant Carmin Fuscellaro Jr., who was killed in the line of duty in February of 1961. For the next 20 years the K-9 Unit served the citizenry of Camden. The unit was disbanded due for budgetary reasons in 1981.

After leaving the Police Department, Harry A. Harris Sr. worked in Security for Sungard Financial of Voorhees, New Jersey. Last a resident of 

Marlton, New Jersey, Harry A. Harris passed away on August 13, 2011.

Harry A. Harris Sr. was survived by his wife of 50 years, the former Janet F. Helverson, son Harry Harris Jr., and daughters Holly Harris, Mrs. Janet Alesandrini, and Mrs. Peggy Cecala, five grandchildren, and his sisters Sally Coates and Anna Mae Hess.


The K-9 Office being rehabbed.
This office was in one of the buildings in the old sewage plant that the K-9 Unit took over.
In this photo: Tommy Kenuck, Sgt. Harry Harris, Richie Williams

Entrance to the K-9 Office at the old sewer plant on Farragut Avenue

Officer Lawson "Skip" Lamp (1949-1996 ), his dog Kelly, with Sgt. Harry Harris in the Jute Suit

Officer Ronnie Miller and K-9 Banchee, with Sgt. Harris holding the "Bag"

Bob Nelson and Butch doing drug work

Main Kennel inside the old sewage treatment plant

1970s - Muggers Beware!
Harry Harris - Westfield Acres

Bob Nelson and Butch, with Sgt. Harry "The Hat" Harris  
during K-9 Demo for school kids.

Butch getting the best of Sgt. Harry Harris

Butch and Sgt. Harry Harris... He's trying to get away!!!

Getting Sergeant Harry Harris out of the Jute Suit

Camden Courier-Post * May 4, 1977
Dog Days for K-9 Corps

Courier-Post staff

 THE CAMDEN Police Department's K-9 Corps, currently being expanded and revitalized, is experiencing growing pains.

Three senior members of the Corps have been transferred to patrol or walking beat duty as the result of a conflict with the Corps' new commander, Sgt. Harry Harris.

One new member was bitten on the hand by the dog he was being trained to handle.

And the K-9 expansion and transfers have rekindled a long-standing feud between Chief Harold Melleby and Deputy Chief Mario J. Ferrari.

The Corps, founded in 1960, has had a checkered history that has taken it to a peak of 18 policeman-dog teams and to a low of zero when it was briefly abolished in 1967.

Following vigorous public protest, it was re-established, but reached another low point in 1974 and 1975. In 1974, the Corps' kennels on Newton Avenue were torn down and the homeless dogs were temporarily housed in a Lindenwold kennel. In 1975, a new city kennel on the grounds of the Baldwin’s Run sewage treatment plant was denounced by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Corps own veterinarian as cramped and disease-producing.

A new spacious kennel was constructed later that year, and last January, Melleby announced that the Corps was being expanded from seven to 12 dogs, and that some of the older dogs approaching 10 years­ would be retired.

The new Corps also would be more specialized, with some dogs trained to sniff out bombs, heroin and mari­juana, Melleby said.

The revitalization under Harris who had been assigned to the Corps on two previous occasions. is now under way.

Four new handler-dog teams have complete training –two in narcotics detection - and five more are taking the 12-week training course, Harris said. There are now a total of 11 teams either in training or having completed it, he said. The marijuana-detecting teams graduated April 29, he said.

The revitalized Corps will work not only in Camden but in departments throughout Camden County upon request to the county prosecutor's Office, Melleby said.

BUT THE CHANGES in the Corps have not been without problems.

Three senior members and their dogs have been transferred out. Patrolmen Dennis Gormley, Ed Jordan and Ronald Miller, who average about six years' experience each on the Corps, have been reassigned. Miller is on regular patrol car duty, and the other two are walking beats.

Miller and Jordan filed a grievance through the Fraternal Order of Police in which they claimed they had been ordered to do construction work at the kennel, allegedly in violation of a city ordinance. Harris and Melleby both refused comment on the reasons for the transfers but the Courier-Post learned that Harris, in requesting the transfers, cited an uncooperative attitude on the part of the men.

Miller's and Jordan's grievances were rejected by their superiors, and they remain on their new assign­ment.

Also, the Courier-Post has obtained a copy of a confidential memorandum. dated April 27. from Ferrari to Melleby.  In the memorandum, Ferrari states his opposition to the expansion of the K-9 Corps and said he would like to see it abolished or at least reduced in scope.

Ferrari termed the K-9 Corps “a luxury we cannot presently afford at the expense of the regular patrol force” and an additional expense to the city that is unnecessary.  He also contended that the presence of K-9s can be construed as inflammatory in any incident that may have racial overtones.

“Any routine incident could become explosive with the employment of K-9s… K-9s have been historically offensive to minority groups who are extremely fearful and sensitive to this form of police action," Ferrari wrote in the memorandum.

The deputy chief also complained in the report that he was not he commands, it falls under him in the chain of command. 

Melleby refused to discuss personnel transfers in the Corps but indicated that Ferrari on occasion has declined to participate in similar decisions.

 "If someone else fails to make a decision, I won’t hesitate to” the chief said. “The work has to be done.”

Harry Harris - Harold Melleby - Vince Buondonno  
Walter Busko - Thomas Kenuk


Courier-Post Staff

Do you have a frisky, young German Shepherd you just can't persuade to leave the shoes, furni­ture, living-room rug and postman's leg alone?

If he or she is one to three years old, purebred and in good condition, the doggie that just isn't for you might be exactly want the Camden Police Department needs.

The department's K-9 Corps, 0n the skids in recent years, is being revived and enlarged.

Sgt. Harry Harris, Commanding the K-9 Division, said Wednesday that the unit will be expanded from its seven dogs to12. He also said the present dogs, with upwards of ten years service each, will be retired shortly.

One additional policeman handler will be added for each dog added, bringing the strength to 12 men. 

Each police dog is trained to respond to only one handler and cannot be used by anyone else.

The K-9 Unit, founded in 1960, numbered 20 dogs and their handlers, Harris said.

However the department de-emphasized the unit several years ago and gave away all but eight dogs. Harris, then the commander was reassigned to patrol duty three years ago when the Newton Avenue kennels were torn down

The K-9 unit reached a low point in 1974 and 1975 when the dogs were housed in rented kennels in Lindenwold and later in cramped cages inside at the Baldwin's Run Sewage Treatment Plant in Cramer Hill.

In January 1975, Dr. SA Fittipaldi, the unit's veterinarian since it was founded, said the dogs would sicken and die unless their living conditions improved.

The SPCA denounced the dogs quarters as "grossly inhumane".

Under this pressure, the city constructed new, indoor-outdoor "runs" to accommodate up to 12 dogs, and the new kennels, also on the Baldwin’s Run grounds, were opened later.  

"The quarter we have now are I better than any we have ever had," Harris said. Harris said “Chief Harold Melleby has decided to strengthen the K-9 Unit because after an extensive evaluation, he believes that the K-9 Corps can assist the work of the department and benefit the public."

Policemen newly assigned to the unit will be chosen from volunteers within the department, and several new handlers are being trained, he said.

Dogs offered by the public to the city will be screened, and those accepted will be trained.

Some of the new dogs will be used for routine patrol or crowd control, but others will be "detective dogs". "We are going to train two dogs for narcotics detection, and two others as bomb detectors," Harris said.      

He noted that the trend in the use of police dogs is towards these more specialized uses. The animals can be taught to sniff out marijuana and other drugs, and also to locale bombs and incendiary devices.

Those with dogs to offer can telephone Harris at the K-9 Unit at 757-7887.  


A History of Camden's first K-9 Units

Chief William Neale gave the go ahead for the K-9 in 1960. Carmin "Fuzzy" Fuscellaro was the first Sergeant to set things up. They were first located at South 10th Street and Newton Avenue in the old Public Service Garage behind the Patrol Division also located there. Some referred to it as the Police Garage. The officers did the majority of the work as their talent was relentless with Dave Newberry, Ray Paradise and others all kicking in and building the facility.

The biggest hurdle was winning public support for the Unit. The picture of the Jay-walking program was an idea of Walt Busko. Busko obtained some bed sheets and had Camden Police Officer Anthony Martino senior paint "Do not Jaywalk": on the sides in front of Lit Bros. You can see a little of Officer Martino's artwork in the display window of Lit Bros. behind the officers. Bill Latham was another great handler in the picture. 

Chief William Neale deserves the credit for having the wisdom and foresight to start the K-9, police academy, juvenile bureau, traffic and accident investigation units within the department.  All became well respected on the East Coast! I remember Bill Neale telling me that there was only a handful of police departments willing to use K-9 dogs at that time because of the aggressive nature of the crowd control element. Later, detection for humans and bombs gave a more favorable appearance. Note Chris Yeager's bloodhound.  

The officers are still wearing the Wool Coats. The original coast were called "Potato sacks" because they were so long. The K-9, cut them to car length. The leather jackets were then implemented because of the hair from the K-9 dogs. Officer Walter Busko found a north North Jersey company that provided the jackets for $35.00 each.  Boy, did that wool smell when it was wet!  

Later,  the entire police department adopted the leather jackets after a series of options were presented to the officers and by 1968 everyone switched to leather jackets from the former blouse jackets and wool coats. This was the turning point for the 8-point hat to the round trooper styled hat as well. The Gray shirts remained but the navy tie was changed to Nicholson blue to match the stripe on the pants. Later the shirt color changed in 1972,  to Navy blue following the disturbances experienced in the city.   The K-9 brought the Ascots back in Nicholson Blue later and can be seen in some of the pictures with Bob Nelson and Joseph Richardson.  

 In the background of one of your photos,  we see Inspector Yeager and  Inspector Watson.  Public displays were common to win the support of the public for the K-9's and what they could do.  The first police vehicle was a red Ford Falcon station wagon. No air conditioning. Philadelphia vehicles were also red at the time. We have come a long way. 

The K-9 first K-9 unit was disbanded for manpower needs and overall cost of the kennels in the mid-1960s. The city decided to bring in a Public Safety Director, a retired State Police Sergeant, Keith Kauffman.

Most of the K-9 officers ended up as juvenile or adult detective bureau so there was no big return to patrol each time they disbanded.  Ray Paradise was always the "builder," and Walt Busko ran the juvenile bureau for years; Bill Latham went to the Bureau for a great career, John Aversa was promoted to sergeant and ended up in Communications and so on.  We see the same thing with the Warren Worrell and Gary Miller era after they disbanded that group.

Eventually the unit was started again with different units (SRD, SRB) at South 10th Street and Newton Avenue and then disbanded for manpower. Chief Harold Melleby started the unit for a third time at the Farragut Avenue location in Cramer Hill. 

This was not unique to the department. Traffic Bureau met the same fate with different combinations of Traffic and Accident Investigations.  At one point, traffic was part of Identification Bureau and the records were kept in the basement. A grant of Honda motorcycles revised that unit. They were shared by the SRB and ruined by the officers in a very short period of time. But that's another story. Just a little color background for you. The bottom line for the abandonment each time was a familiar story. Administration did not understand the training needs of the K-9 and on-going training that was necessary. Bill Neale copied a program from New York and later Camden Police trained most of the area police department much like what takes place at the Camden County Police Academy today.

Sergeant Harry Harris brought the pride of the K-9 back to the original unit that I am sure he had known from the earlier years. Camden subscribed to the model of keeping the dogs at a Kennel.  Later, the idea of the handler taking the animals home became popular due to the cost of Kennel maintenance.  Each time, it was the officers that made the units the pride of the department by doing the majority of the work. 

Dr. Charles J. Kocher
December 2010


Camden Courier-Post * August 15, 2011

Harry A. Harris, Sr.

Harry A. Harris, Sr., on August 13, 2011, of Marlton, NJ, formerly of Camden, NJ. Age 73. Beloved husband of 50 years of Janet F. Harris (nee Helverson). Loving father of Janet (Joe) Alesandrini, Holly Harris, Peggy (Nick) Cecala and Harry A. Harris, Jr. Dear grandfather of Billy, Jeffrey, Joe, Daniel, Michael and Brianna. He is also survived by his sisters, Sally Coates and Anna Mae Hess. 

A US Navy veteran, Mr. Harris was a Camden City Police Officer for 28 years and after retirement worked Security for Sungard Financial of Voorhees. He was a member of the F.O.P. 

Relatives and friends are invited to the viewing on Wednesday from 10-12 noon at the Bradley Funeral Home, Rt. 73 and Evesham Rd., Marlton, where a Funeral Service will be held at 12 noon. Interment will be private. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Harry's memory to the Animal Welfare Assoc. 509 Centennial Blvd. Voorhees NJ 08043.

Thanks to retired Camden Police Department K-9 officers Bob Nelson and Larry Worrell, retired Camden Police officer Charles Kocher and Gary Evangelista, and Camden Fire Department photographer Bob Bartosz, and Dusty Simon for their help in creating this page.