POLICE Magazine

NOV 2018

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38 POLICE NOVEMBER 2018 stadium that is the unknown," says retired law enforcement K-9 handler Karl Smith. According to Smith, searches by ex- plosive detection dogs have until recently covered primarily static objects. "We checked trash cans, cars, desks, closets, and things like that," he says. "Now we have developed a dog that's capable of finding the odor of explosives and trailing that odor on a moving object, including people." at may not sound like a complicated capability for a K-9, but experts say it's one thing for a dog to find planted explosives in a building, which are giving off steady olfactory clues to their presence, and an- other for that same dog to follow the scent of the explosives through a crowd of mov- ing people. "e dogs were not trained to do that," says Smith, program manager for K2 Solutions. "ey did not have a recol- lection of what they were supposed to do if they found that thing that was here and then it's gone. ey needed to know how to put that two and two together of it's here, it's gone, and now I need to find it." K2 Solutions is one of the nation's larg- est suppliers of explosives detection dogs. e North Carolina-based company has trademarked its Person-Borne Explosives Detection Dogs. e term means the dog can detect explosives being carried on the body of a moving person. e company also provides dogs for patrol, corrections, narcotics, and security operations. EARLY TRAINING Smith says all of K2's explosive detection and multipurpose dogs are provided by select breeders or bred at the company's Jackson Springs, NC, facility. "We start K2 Solutions Located in the Sandhills region of North Carolina, K2 Solutions (www.k2si.com) is one of the nation's largest providers of K-9s for law enforcement and security. The company's headquarters are in Southern Pines and its training facility is in a rural area about 15 minutes away. The training facility covers 125 acres of grounds and includes kennel space for more than 350 dogs, training and program staff offices, a veterinary hospital, training areas, runs, and a wide variety of terrains. In addition, K2's trainers have access to 55 satellite training venues such as schools, hotels, airports, arenas, and warehouses. The company is licensed for explosives manufacture and nar- cotics handling. K2 breeds many of the dogs that it supplies to clients, but it also sends out teams to find qualified breeders and suitable animals. All dogs are screened by veterinary staff and their backgrounds and bloodlines are studied by K2 subject matter experts. Instruction at K2's training facilities is not just for the dogs. Handlers and even K-9 unit supervisors attend classes at the company. Handlers train with their dogs before both the dogs and the handlers gradu- ate the program. Supervisor classes cover the limitations of what K-9s can do and what they can't. But much of the supervisor instruction includes classes on budgets and liability. "When you have a K-9 unit, your budget now must in- clude all the needs of your four-legged friends," say Karl Smith, K2 Solutions program manager. K2's law enforcement clients include the FBI, New York Police Department, Los Angeles Police Department, and Philadelphia Police Department among many others. The company also supplies dogs and handlers for clients who rent their services to provide security for special events. training the puppies at nine, 10, or 11 weeks old, and build their capabilities from the ground up," he says. Much of the training in this early phase focuses on socialization—getting the dogs to "play nice" with other animals and to bond with humans—and introduction to a variety of environments. Part of that environmental training involves expos- ing the dogs to a variety of surfaces that they will need to walk on once they go operational as law enforcement and se- curity K-9s. For example, one of the train- ing buildings at K2 includes a room where puppies get used to walking on linoleum, tile, wood, carpet, cement, and a variety of rugs. e young puppies are also trained to navigate stairs, which can be a chal- lenge with some dogs. roughout the training process at K2, the health of the dogs is monitored. As they are being raised to maturity and trained, K2's veterinary staff, including the company's full-time vet, makes sure their medical needs are met. Once the dogs grow out of their early Labrador retrievers are excellent for bomb detection because they have a strong prey drive and they don't scare most people. TRAINING THE BOMB HUNTERS

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