Canine Patrol Units
Canine Patrol Units exist as the Canine Enforcement Program (CEP) of the CBP, as part of the Coast Guard's Maritime Safety and Security Team (MSST) and as the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) National Explosives Detection Canine Team. The CBP canine program focuses mainly on land border crossings while Coast Guard focuses on maritime port security and TSA focuses on airport security. The purpose of canine patrol units is to develop, execute, and oversee the allocation, training, and support of canine resources. These very effective, mobile teams can quickly locate and identify dangerous materials that may present a threat at border crossings, ports, or to transportation systems. Just as important, they can quickly rule out the presence of dangerous materials in unattended packages, structures or vehicles, allowing the free and efficient flow of commerce.
Canine Officers and their detector dogs can also be trained to interdict narcotic substances, smuggled agriculture products, and unreported currency. The CBP Canine Enforcement Program is involved in specialized detection programs aimed at combating terrorist threats at our nation's borders and international airports. The MSST team frequently boards ferries at maritime ports to screen passengers and belongings to prevent the introduction of explosives or weapons of mass destruction to the maritime transportation system.
The CBP CEP, located within the Office of Field Operations (OFO), Border Security and Facilitation, is an integral part of the Agency's counter-terrorism and narcotics interdiction strategy. The Canine Enforcement Training Center (CETC) develops course content and provides training for CBP Officers (K9). Currently there are over 800 OFO canine teams fulfilling the CBP mission throughout the United States. The vast majority of CBP canine resources are located along the Southwest border, from Brownsville, Texas to San Diego, California. Canine teams are also strategically assigned to other ports of entry around the country, and located at pre-clearance stations abroad. Although the CEPT is primarily focused on the training and development of OFO Canine Enforcement teams, there are also detector dog training opportunities, on a reimbursable basis, for other federal, state, local, and foreign law enforcement agencies. The program also provides limited assistance to state and local law enforcement entities on a case-by-case basis.
The TSA's canine training takes places at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas where law enforcement officers are paired with a canine teammate. TSA uses German Shepherds, Belgian Malanoises, Vizslas and other types of dogs in the program because of their keen noses and affinity for this type of work.
Coast Guard canine officers were trained at Auburn University Canine Detection Training Center. The training that the dogs and handlers received provide them with the capability to deploy via land, sea, and air. The dogs have been acclimated to many types of working environments.
Narcotic detector dogs are taught to detect concealed narcotics, such as heroin, cocaine, marijuana, ecstasy, methamphetamine, and other dangerous substances. Some dogs are trained to detect either currency, concealed humans, agriculture products or dangerous materials that could be used by terrorists. While the dogs are trained to detect specific odors, the officers are trained how to effectively utilize the detector dogs, and to enhance the detection capabilities. Officers are also instructed in the various areas of Customs law, Immigration law, agency regulations, policies and procedures, proper firearms techniques, use of force issues and non-lethal control procedures.
At border ports, a canine team can examine a vehicle in 5 to 6 minutes, drastically reducing search times conducted without a canine. Canines can check packages in a fraction of the time needed by mail examiners. A canine team can process 400 to 500 packages in approximately 30 minutes.
The CBP allows other Federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies may participate in yearly evaluations. The prerequisites for attendance are: the officer and his assigned canine must have successfully completed the CBP Basic Narcotic Detector Dog Course. No additional expense will be incurred by CBP as a result of the team's inclusion in the evaluation process. All outside agency requests must receive prior approval from CEP Headquarters.
For evaluation, narcotic detector dogs are tested in their actual work environments on their ability to detect the odors of marijuana, hashish, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and ecstasy. Dogs trained to detect other odors, such as currency or non-narcotic hazardous substances, are also evaluated on their detection capabilities regularly. The officers are also evaluated, ensuring that they possess the critical handling skills necessary to successfully deploy an OFO detector dog.
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