Oshkosh PD Brings a Little “Magic” To The Department

The Oshkosh Police Department has added a new therapy dog, named Magic, to the Department.

In a press release issued Tuesday (3/8/2022) Oshkosh PD said Magic is a professionally trained, two year old female Golden Retriever who will
provide emotional support to both members of our community and Officers. She will be working with Behavioral Health Officer, Scott Sopata, who since October 2021 has been responding to behavioral health related calls, highly sensitive/emotional calls for service, as well as being used to support employees of the Oshkosh Police Department after Critical Incidents.

Magic is said to be a very friendly dog, loves to be petted, and always has a smile on her face. The Oshkosh Police Department continues to be proactive in seeking various strategies to help Officers deescalate situations and bring them to peaceful resolutions. Magic will work “her magic” by bringing a sense of calm to high stress situations and will
be an important asset to both the Department and the City of Oshkosh.

Magic was trained through a program called, Journey Together, which is part of Journey Together Service Dog Inc., ia 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organization in Oshkosh.

Their mission is to provide highly trained service dogs to people
diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Dogs are placed at no charge with qualified Wisconsin residents who are 18 years or older.

This organization has a unique training program for their service dogs. The service dogs reside at the Oshkosh Correctional Institution and inmates apply to the program to provide training in a number of areas and care for the dogs.

Community volunteers go to the facility to provide instruction with inmates and take the dogs out of the prison to provide experiences that are not possible in a correctional facility. This partnership significantly decreases the cost of training service dogs, increasing the number of dogs who can be trained and placed in the community.

The Oshkosh Police Department feels that partnering with Journey
Together and the Oshkosh Correctional Institution helps to support rehabilitation programs and also support citizens in our community who are diagnosed with PTSD.

Magic has completed extensive training with Journey Together and with Officer Sopata. She has several Certifications: Canine Good Citizen, Advanced Canine Good Citizen, Urban Canine Good Citizen and Trick Dog. Journey Together typically trains their dogs from the time they are 8 weeks old until they are two years old.

Chief Dean Smith stated, “The ability to add a therapy dog to our programming to help our community members in need is another step forward that the Department has taken to respond to our community members in need. Magic has come to us through generous donations from our community through the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation.

We are incredibly thankful for the support that our donors provide to us. Our community believes in the work that we are doing and we appreciate that!”

Behavioral Health Officer, Scott Sopata stated: “I am very excited about
incorporating Magic into my role as BHO. We will work as a Team to assist individuals in crisis situations, help them get any needed resources, and will also conduct after care follow up with them. Magic will bring an additional sense of calm and peace wherever she goes.”

The Oshkosh Police Department has partnered with Winnebago County Human Services who will be providing a Mental Health Crisis Specialist Co-Responder to the team in the near future as well. This Co-Responder will be working with Behavioral Health Officer Sopata and will respond to calls for service with him to provide assessment and brief counseling to citizens experiencing a mental health emergency and determine the best intervention/ treatment options.

Funding for this new Co-Responder position is provided by Winnebago County (Human Services) and the City of Oshkosh and is currently posted online: https://www.co.winnebago.wi.us/human-resources/employment-opportunities

The Oshkosh Police Department feels that Mental Health Wellness is a priority for both its employees and community members. By incorporating a Behavioral Health Officer, a therapy dog, and a Mental Health Crisis Specialist Co-Responder to our team as well as having a Mental Health and Resiliency program for employees we are striving to promote this wellness in our community