Q&A: Officer in Charge of Police Service Dogs for 2010 Winter Olympic GamesPublished February 1, 2010
The Olympic Games require world-class security to keep athletes and spectators from all over the globe safe.
The security team for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada, includes a special group of dogs who work with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
The RCMP Police Service Dogs use their special training to provide protection no human or machine could match.
Petside spoke to Lawrence D.Aimoe Insp., Officer in Charge at the RCMP Dog Service Training Centre, about these special canines' training, and how they will be protecting the athletes and fans at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
Q: How are the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Service Dogs trained?
The dogs that are trained at the national training centre (PDSTC) commence their training at approximately 10 days of age. Neurological stimulation and handling of our newborn pups begins shortly after they are born. The puppies' training continues with daily interaction with our kennel staff which would include daily socialization and exposure to our "puppy playground".
At 8 weeks of age, the puppies are tested by our Breeding Program Manager using techniques that have been refined and modified, but are based on some of the practices of the famous "Monks of New Skete" in New York. If the puppy tests out suitable to continue in our program (we currently have a 1:3 ratio of success), they are then sent out to RCMP members who wish to become dog handlers.
This next step is part of our imprinting program, which includes exposing the pup to many of the environmental variables that it will face in its career as a Police Service Dog. The dog is tested throughout the imprinting process by our imprinting staff to ensure that both the dog and the potential RCMP dog handler are progressing. The potential Police Service Dog would be assessed and if it meets the stringent criteria, it would be brought back to the Police Dog Service Training Centre (PDSTC) and go into the pre-train program prior to the commencement of training.
The potential Police Service Dog, if found suitable, would then be teamed up with either a new RCMP member or re-train with an existing dog handler who needs a new dog. The training for a new dog handler team takes approximately four-and-a-half months and the re-train can take as little as one month.
The dogs are trained utilizing a reward system which usually involves the dog's favorite toy and lots of praise. The dog teams are trained in urban/rural tracking, searching (articles, people, drugs, or explosives), criminal apprehension (bite work), and enhanced profiles of either explosive or narcotics detection. All dogs are agility and obedience trained throughout their lives.
Q: What breeds does the RCMP's Police Service Dog program accept?
The RCMP Police Service Dog Breeding Program produces German Shepherd dogs from our own program. The German Shepherd is the only dog utilized in our multi-purpose dog team. Our specialty dogs that only detect either narcotics or explosives are Labradors or Golden Retrievers.
Q: What areas will the Police Service Dogs work in during the Olympics?
The Police Dog Service Teams at the Olympics will be working in teams with other Police professionals in the detection of explosives. They are also prepared to deploy in any other type of role that is necessary to protect the public who are at the games or visiting the area at the time.
Q: How many Police Service Dogs will be working at the Olympics?
There will be more than 50 teams deployed during the Olympic Games with many more working outside the venues.
Q: What will be the main functions of the Police Service Dogs at the Olympic venues?
The main function of our dog teams at the Olympics will be to ensure the safety of our guests and to work as part of a specialized team to ensure all areas are safe and secure.
Q: How are Police Service Dogs preparing for the Olympics?
The dogs are preparing for the Olympics by taking specialized training relative to large venue security. The teams are also extensively trained in the detection of all explosive substances that could jeopardize the safety of the athletes and our guests.
Q: Why are Police Service Dogs such an important part of large event security?
The dogs have abilities that humans or machines do not possess. Unlike a machine, they can think and act to ensure the safety of their handler and the people we serve. Their ability to detect even the slightest odor of interest is incredible and they do it for the praise of their handler and a chance to have their ball or toy.
Q: What other events/places do RCMP Police Service Dogs patrol?
The RCMP Police Service Dogs work in every province and territory in Canada. Police Dog Service teams have provided services to the all international events and international visits in Canada. Each time a VIP or dignitary visits Canada, the RCMP have the primary responsibility to ensure their safety. Our police dog service teams are deployed on any international event or gathering such as the Summit of Americas or G8 meetings.
We also provide protection for our Prime Minister and Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and family when they visit Canada. The Police Service Dog teams save approximately 50 lives every year by finding lost children, hikers, hunters, and those who may be suffering a crisis.
Our dog teams deploy with our public order units (riot control), our Emergency Response Teams (SWAT), Civilian Search and Rescue, Avalanche Search and Rescue, Major Crimes units, Marine Units, Integrated Border Enforcement Teams, Operation Pipeline/Jetway teams, and the Prime Minister's Protective detail to name a few.
For more on the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Service Dogs Program, visit www.policedogs.ca
Photo: Cst. Jarrod Trickett with Police Service Dog "Rook" learning rural tracking under the watchful eye of Sgt. Phil Graham from the Training Centre. Photo courtesy of the RCMP Police Dog Service Training Centre.