Tuesday, February 9, 2016

St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office Hosts 2016 Maryland Canine Workshop

Similar to law enforcement officers, police dogs must be tested and evaluated before they are approved for street duty. The St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office hosted the 2016 MD Canine workshop, which offered  IPWDA (International Police Work Dog Association) certifications. From January 11-15, over thirty-five law enforcement officers from various agencies – including Veterans Affairs, the Anne Arundel County Police, the Annapolis City Police, and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) – attended the training.

Corporal Todd Fleenor, Sheriff’s Office Master Trainer, organized the training. Corporal Fleenor is one of only two master trainers for IPWDA in the state of Maryland.

“This is the first time the Sheriff’s Office hosted the training event,” said Corporal Fleenor.

The training helped local and federal law enforcement canine teams sharpen their skills in obedience, aggression control, tracking, building, area searches, evidence & article search, explosives, and narcotics detection.

“The agencies often collaborate at different locations in the region to learn from each other and practice real-world scenarios,” said Corporal Fleenor.

In addition to certification, the workshop offered the teams a chance to problem solve through scenario-based training. 

The workshops included:
  •  Tactical Movement and Shooting with Canine Partners
  •  Introduction to Explosives and IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices)
  •  Canine Legal Update and Court Preparations

The St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office has five canine teams. The teams are certified to conduct building searches, recover evidence, track suspects, drug detection, and apprehend violent offenders. Canines used for explosive detection investigate bomb threats and perform premise checks before large-scale events, such as the Christmas Tree Lighting in Leonardtown.

While teams train weekly to maintain their sharpness, each team has to undergo a recertification every year. The St. Mary's County Sheriff’s Office canine teams passed the 2016 recertification process.  

Corporal Fleenor explained that the training creates a fellowship between the canine teams. “This is a very tight-knit group within the agency,” He said.

Aggression Control - Three main parts include recall, termination of chase, and handler protection. 

Explosive Test - During this test, ten distractor odors and ten clean odors are randomly inserted into blocks. This purpose of the test is for canine teams to demonstrate odor recongnition skills.

Luggage Test - Durin this test, canine teams are trained to detect suspicious packages.