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Leonard Williams Justice Center in Wilmington has its first comfort dog

Officer Vinn at Leonard Williams Justice Center in Wilmington
Administrative Office of the Courts
State of Delaware
Officer Vinn at Leonard Williams Justice Center in Wilmington

The Delaware Judiciary is bringing a facility dog to the Leonard Williams Justice Center in Wilmington to offer comfort to children and parents.

K-9 Officer Vinn is the first comfort dog at the Leonard Williams Justice Center, and Vinn’s job is to comfort children and parents attending court proceedings.

“We want to thank the Capitol Police for launching this innovative pilot program, and we welcome K-9 Officer Vinn to the Leonard L. Williams Justice Center,” said Chief Justice Collins J. Seitz, Jr. “The courthouse does not have to be a scary place and we believe the services of Officer Vinn will help make the Justice Center more welcoming, or at least not as stressful, particularly for children involved in court proceedings.”

Delaware Capitol Police has been interested in participating in the facility dog program for over a year, after learning about the New Castle County Police Department’s success with its comfort dog, Nikko.

Officials later met Nikko and its handlers, then a pilot program was created, ending with Officer Vinn’s placement.

Vinn is a highly trained K-9 that loves interacting with people.

“He has a natural personality and demeanor that is different from our other working dogs at the courthouse. He is the perfect new addition to our police division for us to achieve our commitment to the citizens of Delaware,” said Delaware Capitol Police Chief Michael Hertzfeld.

Vinn specializes in helping those dealing with anxiety in a courtroom or court house setting and will be available on an appointment and as-needed basis.

The K-9 officers arrived at the Wilmington courthouse late last year, and Vinn has already helped in a number of Family Court proceedings, but not in a trial in a courtroom.

That determination will be made by Delaware Capitol Police and the dog’s handler Sr. Cpl. Donna DiClemente.

Joe brings over 20 years of experience in news and radio to Delaware Public Media and the All Things Considered host position. He joined DPM in November 2019 as a reporter and fill-in ATC host after six years as a reporter and anchor at commercial radio stations in New Castle and Sussex Counties.