The University of Georgia Police Department is equipped with explosive canine detective teams that are used to maximize safety while minimizing disruptions to the overall academic environment. The teams, each consisting of a law enforcement officer and a dog, conduct searches in response to bomb threats, suspicious packages, dignitary protection, gun recovery and special events. They provide assistance per request to various state, county and municipal law enforcement agencies throughout the state of Georgia. The K9 Handlers are on call 24/7 and their K9 handling duties are in addition to their current assignments.
The dogs are trained in odor recognition by a certified instructor along with basic obedience and how to alert on an explosive odor. Once the dog has successfully completed this training, they are then paired with a dog handler for a period of four to five weeks. The teams are taught search techniques as well as procedures on recognizing changes in their dog’s behavior when they “alert” on a potential threat. This produces an effective team which can locate and identify a wide variety of dangerous materials.
Once the team successfully completes the training, they are certified by the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA). GEMA schedules additional training throughout the year and mandates that each team gets re-certified annually. Upon their return to the department they continue to train once a week to maintain the highest level of efficiency. The teams train with other agencies throughout the state to improve their skills and introduce the dogs to different environments. The joint training allows us to develop good working relationships in the event we are called on to work together during an actual emergency.