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A graphic created for Hemlock, the newest four-legged member at Provost Marshal's Office, Marine Corps Base Camp Butler.

Photo by Sgt. Kree Laing

Provost Marshal’s Office adopts canine companion for military police

4 Apr 2024 | Cpl. Alex Fairchild Marine Corps Installations Pacific

 When an emergency call is made in Okinawa, Japan, the caller may be having the worst day of their life. Emergency responders, such as firefighters and Marines with Provost Marshal’s Office, Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Installations Pacific, are the first to respond to these crises.

These Marines are trained to respond quickly and effectively to these emergencies. However, with a constant influx of calls and possible emergencies, stress and pressure can become overwhelming for military police officers.

Enter Hemlock: a mixed-breed dog serving as the PMO’s office and stress relief dog.

“The idea to get Hemlock came from a history of critical incidents and stress that military police officers deal with,” said Master Sgt. Christopher Kalina, the future operations chief with PMO, H&S Battalion, MCIPAC. “There has been research that in a law enforcement setting, dogs can help police officers relieve some of their day-to-day stress. Dogs simply make people happy.”

Hemlock, or “Hemmy,” is an offspring of Daisy, a stray dog that was roaming Camp Foster. When Daisy safely delivered her litter of puppies, thanks to animal control, Marines from PMO picked Hemlock to bring into the office.

“Although we work 12-hour shifts, the typical day for us is much longer than that,” said Cpl. Daniel Kunkel, a military police officer with PMO, H&S Battalion, MCIPAC. “I wake up at 4:00 a.m., get to work at 5:00 a.m. to receive patrol briefs, and then I’m on patrol from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., with additional case work to do after my shift, so I usually don’t get home until around 8:00 p.m.”

Kunkel, a native of Ohio, explained that with the long days, having Hemlock at the office gives him and the other Marines extra positivity and comfort when they need it.

Hemlock was officially adopted by the PMO on March 17 and is part of the critical incident and stress management program. Kalina said the program ensures that military police officers are talking about the stressful incidents they encounter. Hemlock is a part of that effort to not only keep morale high but to make the mental health of the Marines a priority.

According to Kalina, the CISM program was implemented earlier in March for individuals affected by potentially traumatic events that are outside of their normal work experience.

“Individuals experience critical incidents in different ways and vary in their reactions to similar events,” said Kalina. “The CISM program is led by the PMO command leadership team, Provost Marshal, Deputy Provost Marshal and Provost Sergeant. When a critical incident occurs, CISM is activated, and a critical incident peer support group is deployed to assist the Marine in that situation.”

Hemlock, named after a flower like his mother Daisy, is part of the animal facet of CISM. Hemlock was implemented to simply provide joy and comfort.

“The real purpose of PMO is to help people,” said Kalina. “We help protect the community, protect the installation, preserve order, and enforce the laws of the installation. An extremely important part of that is taking care of the military police officers who do that work. The job, although highly rewarding, is taxing physically and mentally, so having Hemlock in the office brings that extra morale boost our Marines need.”