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NMPD officer rides Offic-aurus Tommy Rex on Wednesday, March 27.

UNMPD announces ‘Small Arms Division’: New animal task force comprised of T. rexes

The University of New Mexico Police Department announced at a press conference on Wednesday, March 27 that they will expand the animal police force to include a pack of Tyrannosaurus rexes.

T. rexes are known for their speed, agility and smarts. Their inherent sense for sniffing out blood will be utilized on the job. It will also be expanded to detect various paraphernalia and explosives, UNMPD Chief Ian Winterhalder said.

The dinosaurs are capable of running at an impressive 12 miles per hour, faster than 90% of the current police force, according to  UNMPD’s website.

Their color vision and keen peripheral sight will especially come in handy, Winterhalder said.

T. rexes were part of a long list of options for the next animal to suit up for police work, beating out highland cows, snapping turtles and sloths, Winterhalder said.

“In the past, we have utilized horses, and while they have done satisfactory work in their duties, UNMPD is looking ahead to the next generation of the animal police force,” Winterhalder said. “We hope the students feel safer with the T. rexes on campus.”

The force has assigned Taylor Aaron-Johnson to be head of the Small Arms Division (SAD) where he will oversee the training of the T. rexes, as well as day-to-day operations once they are ready to begin working, according to UNMPD’s website.

Their main priority will be patrolling campus and keeping students safe, Aaron-Johnson said.

“We know T. rexes often have a bad reputation in society, and we look forward to breaking the stigma and showing the UNM community that T. rexes can be very protective and loveable. There is only a 2% chance the T. rexes would decide to eat someone, based on research, so students have nothing to worry about,” Aaron-Johnson said.

A spokesperson for UNMPD, Roger Fleetwood, stated in a press release the department also hopes the presence of the T. rexes will encourage students to be on their best behavior. 

“We hope the students keep in mind: no one can escape the short arm of the law,” Winterhalder said during the conference.

The first T. rex introduced at the press conference was Offic-aurus (an official UNMPD term) Tommy Rex.

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UNMPD released an image of Tommy Rex in training with an officer on his back as he practices walking without knocking over trees or mauling living things.

“Further training will also include transitioning to a vegetarian diet, inside voices and an anger management course,” Aaron-Johnson said.

The T. rexes will also learn to doggy-paddle to patrol the duck pond and wear pants in public. A few select T. Rexes will be trained in stealth, Winterhalder announced during the press conference.

“Eventually, we will see the T. rexes branching out further into undercover surveillance,” Winterhalder said.

As for whether or not SAD will expand to include other dinosaurs, Winterhalder said there is the potential for a pterodactyl air defense team, among other options.

“So much money has been given to the department for this operation, we’re essentially going to have the next Jurassic Park right here at UNM. It’s going to be awesome,” Winterhalder said.

Fleetwood wrote in the press release that the T. rex officers will be available for meet-and-greets with students once they have been cleared for service.

Maria Fernandez is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at

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