AIKEN, S.C. – The award-winning Savannah River Site (SRS) Canine Program recently helped host 41 teams from South Carolina, Georgia and North Carolina as they participated in annual trials of the nation’s oldest and largest police K-9 organization.
The United States Police Canine Association conducted its spring canine detection trials for the region at SRS. The event was jointly hosted by the SRS Law Enforcement Department, Aiken County Sheriff’s Office, Aiken Department of Public Safety and North Augusta Department of Public Safety.
“We have helped host this event with local law enforcement for over 20 years,” said Norris Bunch, supervisor of the canine section of security services contractor Centerra-SRS. “During certification trials, each team is held to a measured level of proficiency that must be maintained for certification, which is attained through proper training and demonstration through various testing events.”
The association held explosive training and certification at SRS and the narcotics training and certification at several locations in Aiken. A cadaver dog team from North Carolina joined the region’s spring trials for the first time this year.
The association is the universally accepted certification authority for canine working teams, and its testing procedures follow currently accepted police canine practices. To test fairly, law enforcement canine professionals serve as evaluators to observe and document canine team performance.
During trials, narcotics and explosives test sources are hidden on vehicles or in packages and the canine teams must successfully locate the items within a designated time period. Certification of a working canine team is an indicator of successful training and that the team is capable of successfully performing its assigned mission, whether it be explosives, narcotics or cadaver detection.
“After certification, handlers and their dogs are retested on an annual basis to ensure they maintain the proper fundamentals of training and technique,” added Bunch. “At the trials, all of our site canine teams once again achieved certification.”
The SRS Canine Program has earned numerous local, regional and national awards over the years and has been called upon to support local law enforcement and federal agencies, when site missions allow.
“We train constantly at SRS to ensure that our working dogs are able to provide critical support to our security mission at the site,” said Bunch. “As part of that training, we conduct internal testing that is based on United States Police Canine Association standards and certification methodology. As a result, we have a very robust canine program that is fully capable of providing explosives and narcotics detection support at any time.”
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