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New York Expands as Center for K9 Training in Explosives Detection



Stormville – The US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives recently provided training to more than 100 law enforcement K9s and their human partners at the MTA K9 training facility in Stormville.

The ATF holds between five and 12 training events across the country annually. The Dutchess County event drew agencies from the tri-state area including New York City Police Department K9s from the Transit, ESU, and Counter-Terrorism divisions, the US Marshal’s Service, CSX Railroad Police, New York State Police, and the Westchester County Sheriff’s Office.


The Stormville event is part of the ATF’s national canine certifications known as the National Odor Recognition Test (NORT) where police and military canine teams train on various tactical activities in a controlled environment. The three-day test allows canine teams to showcase their odor detection and teamwork skills while actively searching out and identifying a variety of explosive compounds, ignitable liquids, and gunpowder-related residue.

Source: Mid-Hudson News


The K-9’s nose is a major asset, making them capable of detecting up to 19,000 explosives combinations. A major advantage of using the K-9 is their mobility. The dogs are routinely dispatched to search for explosives near major public events, schools, and federal buildings worldwide.


ATF Special Agent K9 Handler Jason Bernhard and his four-legged partner, Jet, operating out of the Buffalo Field Office, participated in the Stormville event, and performed flawlessly in detecting an assortment of explosive odor canisters in one of the rooms.


ATF Supervisory Special Agent Kirk Dennis, the Acting Branch Chief for the ATF National Canine Division in Virginia, noted that the training uses a food and praise reward method that exposes canines to five basic explosives groups, including chemical compounds.


“The ATF canine training gives the dog the ability to detect the widest range of commercial or improvised explosives possible when working in the field.” When K9 Jet successfully identified the odor of an explosive, the three-year-old Labrador Retriever was given a treat and praise, similar to all ATF-trained K9s, making the dogs interchangeable with different handlers if needed.

To earn ATF certification, all dogs must pass a blind test wherein they must successfully detect 20 different explosives odors, two of which they were never exposed to during training. The scientific methodology and the training and testing protocols are certified by the ATF National Laboratory and produce an extremely versatile, mobile, and accurate explosives detection tool.

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