MILFORD, Mass. - The International Police Working Dog Association held an explosives detection seminar at Camp Edwards, Mass., from April 26 through May 1, 2009.
Camp Edwards offers an array of training environments that make it convenient and safe to conduct essential military and law enforcement training.
More than 50 teams came from places as far away as the Philippines, Canada, Bermuda, and various parts of the United States to participate in the event.
The seminar provided lectures, scenario driven exercises and certification testing. The trainers were able to use the post’s barracks, buses, maintenance facility, lecture hall and a warehouse to conduct their training events. The Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives Unit along with the Federal Bureau of Investigations augmented this annual training event by offering National Odor Recognition Testing and booby trap scenarios for the canine teams.
The training is designed to familiarize the dog handlers as well as the dogs with the latest explosive detection techniques.
Samuel J. Shuttleworth, a dog handler with the Federal Protective Service, based out of Norfolk Virginia, went through the training with his dog Nero.
After going through the booby-trapped barracks Shuttleworth said, “The course was excellent and it made me work as hard as the dog. It’s always good to train in a new environment with some one else’s training aids. It’s a better way to test the dog and the handler at the same time.”
Centralized training enables local and international law enforcement teams to spread out across the globe and pool their resources so they can obtain access to high quality and cost effective training.
Chris Morrison, from the Transportation Security Administration brought his dog Zorro with him from Boston to the seminar. Morrison and Zorro work at Logan International Airport to ensure public safety.
“We don’t have an in house training program of our own that is comparable to this. You can’t get this kind of training without being in a bad situation; you can’t put a value on that. I think it has increased my situational awareness,” said Morrison.
Laws and regulations governing hazardous material can make it challenging for law enforcement teams to receive realistic training at some venues. Lisa Scott, a dog handler at the Toronto International Airport, said, “We can’t get the kind of material in Canada that the FBI and ATF provide so we seek out these chemicals and training for our dogs when ever we can.” Scott attended the training with her police dog Dash.
Most military installations already have policies in place to facilitate fire arms and other military training, making them attractive venues for domestic law enforcement agencies in need of intense training.
Although Camp Edwards has a Military Operations on Urban Terrain site and a tactical training base that can facilitate high-intensity training, it was the more common facilities such as buses and warehouses that some officers found best suited for their needs.
Robert Pesce, Pentagon Police said, “This type of training is excellent because of the realism of the training scenario. In the warehouse there were a lot of distractions for my dog Zora because of the chemicals that are stored there and the people who were walking around,” said Pesce.
The dogs were rewarded for their hard work by getting to play with their favorite toys, but the reward for their handlers was potentially life-saving training.