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Sniffing Out Security: FPS K9 Teams

By: FPS Inspector Glen Patrick
Explosive Detector Dog (EDD) teams, also known as K9 teams, are an integral part of any law enforcement organization. We rely on K9 sensibilities to swiftly identify and address threats—with accuracy, and importantly, mobility, that rivals even the most updated technology available. As the law enforcement agency responsible for the protection of over 9,000 federal facilities, the Federal Protective Service (FPS) routinely uses EDD teams to perform “sweeps” to ensure areas are clear of explosives. Whether we are clearing the perimeter for a national political convention or working with bomb technicians to respond to a suspicious package, FPS draws from its force of law enforcement officers, physical security personnel, and K9s to ensure the safety of the American public in and around federal facilities.

Federal facilities have always been attractive targets for criminals and terrorists. Many of these facilities house critical U.S. government functions, or are iconic American landmarks. With such an important protection mission, FPS is always searching for innovative solutions to stay ahead of those that would do harm in today’s dynamic threat environment.

Since the integration of EDD teams to FPS’ repertoire of security services, the agency has seen faster response times and broader impact to improving national security. There is no technology out there today that can search areas for explosives as fast and reliably as a K9. Our K9 teams can sweep areas and unattended items, and if cleared, they can get facilities back up and running with minimal disruption.


FPS Inspectors Glen Patrick and Will Turner with K9s Sasha and Rita.
The growing popularity and demand of FPS’ EDD program has allowed us to look at ways to grow the program with more skills and capabilities. We have recently added to a special K9 detection skill called Vapor Wake Detection (VWD). FPS VWD teams are made of K9 and handlers that are trained to detect bomb parts that are carried by a moving target. This means that we can detect explosives in more scenarios – from those placed in stationary locations like an office and vehicles, to those that are moving targets, such as those carried in bags or packages and by visitors.

K9s bring great success to FPS operations because they are adaptive to changing environments and interact well with human elements, including their handlers and the general public. FPS works daily to balance the tasks of achieving comprehensive security and ensuring convenient access of the public to services housed by federal facilities. FPS K9 teams are a seamless solution to this challenge because K9 presence is an effective deterrent to those that would do harm—in part because they are such a popular and effective means to detect explosive components everywhere.

Today, EDD teams are the most effective way to detect explosives, and FPS continues to make this service available widely by partnering with federal, state, and local officials.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
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