Police Training Shoot House, Home Grown and Impressive

Police Training Shoot House, Home Grown and Impressive

A police training success story. Sheriff’s ingenuity with the help of the local community build a training shoot house from 100% donations.
Jackson County sheriff’s Deputy Phil Cicero says he’s pleased with the agency’s new “shoot house” that will be used for SWAT training and training for other high-risk calls inside homes.

This story originally appeared in Medford Mail Tribune.

The training house was assembled from materials donated by several area businesses. It sits at the Jackson County Sports Park on Kershaw Road, but the structure is restricted from public use.

The 40-foot-by-48-foot building certainly isn’t a handsome piece of real estate. Its sides already are chipped from bullet holes and the bare plywood exterior doesn’t project all the comforts of home.

But the shoot house gives SWAT deputies a place to practice room-clearing, forced entries and other important tactical skills.

The shoot house contains several rooms that can be altered to give the space a different look for each training exercise.

Trained Police Dogs In Big Demand

Trained Police Dogs In Big Demand

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Police Dogs or K9’s have become very commonplace in our everyday lives. Travel though an airport or spend a day that the mall you are sure to see these extremely well training police canines “working” right alone side their two legged partners.

Nearly a day doesn’t pass when I don’t read about an heroic act, a drug bust, or far too often a tragic injury or death of one of these highly trained law enforcers.

Always curious by the many facets public safety training for both policeman and firefighters I recently read an excellent article written by a Massachusetts news reporter, Jessica Trufant (see the contact information below), that added to my knowledge base of the world of K9’s, their training, commitment and (growing) importance.

Ken Ballinger is the Assistant Deputy Superintendent of the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Department has seen a huge spike in the number of departments investing in police dogs following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. More recently AD Ballinger has been flooded with calls pouring into his cell phone in the weeks following the Boston Marathon bombings.

“These aren’t your grandfather’s police dogs,” Ballinger said during a recent training session. “Some of these dogs are just getting back from seven days in Boston with SWAT teams.”

Dwane Foisy, president of the Massachusetts Police Work Dog Association, has also received many inquiries from departments interested in bomb-detecting dogs since Patriots Day.

With more than 20 years as a K9 officer, Foisy, who works for the Berkshire County Sheriff’s Department, just like Ballinger said he saw an upswing in bomb-detecting police dogs after 9/11, but then the demand dropped off. He said bomb dogs might not be realistic for small departments, because calls for suspicious packages peak after an attack, but then trail off.

“When you have a narcotics dog, they’re making seizures of narcotics and money, and there’s a return on the investment,” Foisy said. “With explosives dogs, you may not get calls for service very often.”

While small agencies’ interest in bomb dogs will likely simmer, Ballinger said the demand for multi-purpose police dogs is higher than ever.

For every dog that retires, we’re replacing it with five. said Ballinger

At the Auburn University Canine Detection Training Center in Anniston, Alabama Labrador Retrievers are learning the Auburn-patented vapor-wake training, which means they’ll be able to smell a plume of scent left by an explosive device that is worn or carried. John Pearce, associate director of the Training Center, said they’ve used vapor-wake training for eight years.

Pearce said the vapor-wake trained dogs cost $24,950 and dogs skilled in vapor-wake and standard explosive detection cost $29,950. The Labs trained in Anniston are used by law enforcement agencies across the country, including the New York Police Department and U.S. Capitol Police. Pearce said he couldn’t say with absolute certainty, but if one of his Labs had been at the Boston Marathon the pressure cooker bombs that killed three people might have been discovered before they went off. For more information on the training center in Anniston click here:

Click here to view original web page at enewscourier.com

A Drastic Increase In The Use Of Dogs

A second-generation K9 handler, Ballinger 20 years ago never imagined that dogs in 2013 would be sniffing out contraband cell phones in prisons, or wearing cameras to stake out buildings before raids.

K9_1But Ballinger has seen a drastic increase in the use of dogs and the sophistication of training, as case law and public opinion have shifted to treat K9s as legitimate police tools.

He expects a greater presence of K9s before and during large public events, despite some pushback from privacy rights advocates who may consider the use of dogs unlawful searching.

“Standards for privacy are high in Massachusetts, but the standard of reasonableness reflects the world we live in now,” Ballinger said. “A dog walking around and sniffing you is a lot less intrusive than a cop grabbing you and shaking you like a leaf.”

“There’s nothing in modern technology that will be more accurate or sensitive than a dog’s nose,” Ballinger said.

There is no state oversight or registry for the approximately 300 police dogs in Massachusetts, but Foisy said training and annual certification through a reputable organization or police or sheriff’s department is essential to the integrity of K9 units.

“When you go into court, you need to have the paperwork and justification for how you know what your dog is telling you is correct, and that’s through training and maintenance,” he said.

I encourage you to click on the link below to read more about the extremely valuable training work that Foisy, Ballinger and many others are doing. Get a history lesson and learn some interesting facts, for example:

  • Learn how in 1903 Ivan Pavlov studied conditioned response in salivating dogs. A
  • Learn how today’s police dogs are trained for “detection not destruction” of evidence.
  • Food and veterinary care average about $800 a year, depending on the department and health of the dog. Ashland Animal Hospital, for example, provides care for Dax at no cost.
  • The cost for starting a K9 unit ranges from several thousand dollars to $50,000, depending on who breeds the dog, where it goes for training and the equipment the department needs.

Here are several additional ways to stay connected and informed with Public Safety Training:

  1. LinkedIn Group – Public Safety Training Center Planning, click here to join
  2. Public Safety Training Newsletter – a monthly e-newsletter covering the top news, events and announcements in Public Safety Training. Click here and sign-up (lower right) to read the current issue and get updates.
  3. Responder Gateway – A full featured First Responder news and resource hub. One Place, One Stop, One Source, Visit here and receive daily or weekly fire service or law enforcement news events, alerts or important announcements.
  4. Bill Booth Blog – Timely opinions and articles, on issues and comments about public safety training center management, funding and operations. Click here to read and get updates.

Jessica Trufant can be reached at 508-634-7556 or JTrufant@wickedlocal.com.

Link to the news report: HERE