Canines are an effective resource for detection operations. The Science and Technology Directorate's (S&T's) Detection Canine Program provides the Homeland Security Enterprise (HSE)—including DHS Components, state, local, tribal, and territorial agencies (SLTT)—with the tools, techniques, and knowledge to better understand, train, and deploy detection canines in their operational environments.
S&T is working with DHS partners, including the Transportation Security Administration, other federal agencies, and state and local law enforcement, to:
- Provide a central focal point for DHS canine research and development and test and evaluation
- Promote intra-department and interagency coordination to drive the development of technologies with broad application for the whole of the HSE
- Provide a specific focus on the Person Borne Improvised Explosive Device (PBIED) detection canine
- State of the Art Lab Analysis
- Independent/Expert T&E Assessment
- HSE Community Outreach
- Cross Discipline Odor Discrimination
- Interagency Partnerships
The program has three specific focus areas:
- Development and testing of canine training aids that can be used to improve and test canine ability to detect new threats
- Independent operational test and evaluation capability for detection canines; discovering canine strengths and weaknesses by performing in-field assessments; and using a scientifically rigorous approach with statistically significant results to enhance and validate testing methods
- Canine R&D structure and function with focus on basic understanding of canine olfaction, cognition, genetics, genomics and breeding, and behavior to improve operational efficiencies and training methods
The DHS S&T PBIED Canine Initiative was started in 2012 in order to understand the strengths and limits of canines specially trained to detect PBIEDs being carried in by people, either on their person or in bags, in mass transit and large crowd event operational environments. This type of parametric study and testing has not previously been done, but is critical to scientifically determine the limits of performance.
Since 2012, thousands of data points have been collected during hundreds of individual assessment events involving federal, state, and local law enforcement partner agencies—the results of which have informed the creation of Person-borne Explosive Detection (PBED) Canine Training Guidelines. These guidelines include advanced training techniques that have proven successful in fielding proficient PBED canine teams, and are specifically designed for canine officers familiar with traditional Explosive Detection Canine (EDC) training who would like to “up-train” their teams to develop PBED capability.
The Regional Explosives Detection Dog Initiative (REDDI) was started in 2017 as an outreach effort aimed at advancing the knowledge and capabilities of our nation’s detection canine teams. This initiative addresses the need for a centralized focal point within DHS to address mission requirements, conduct operationally relevant research, facilitate knowledge sharing, and act as a repository of expert advice for the detection canine community. Agencies interested in hosting a REDDI event can send a request to STK9@hq.dhs.gov.
- Detection Canine Fact Sheet
- Best Practices for Detection Canine Training & Testing Report
- Detection Canine Program Person-Borne IED Initiative Fact Sheet and Video
- Effects of Heat and Acclimatization on the Capability of Detection Canines Guide
- Progressive Increases of Blank Searches Improve Detection Canine Performance with Infrequent Target Odors (Infographic)
- Regional Explosives Detection Dog Initiative (REDDI) Fact Sheet and Video
- An Automated Canine Line-Up for Detection Dog Research (Frontiers in Veterinary Science, Volume 8, 2021).
- Genome scanning of behavioral selection in a canine olfactory detection breeding cohort (Scientific Reports 12, 14984 (2022).
- Headspace sampling of smokeless powder odor in a dynamic airflow context (Forensic Chemistry, Volume 27, 2022).
- Vapor Signatures of Double-Base Smokeless Powder and Gunshot Residues for Supporting Canine Odor Imprinting (ACS Omega Journal, Volume 7, 2022).
- News Release: S&T Launches New Training Guideline for Detection Canine Teams
- News Release: DHS S&T Awards Funding to Auburn University for Detection Canine Research and Development
- Snapshot: Helping State and Local Canine Teams be REDDI for Anything
- Snapshot: S&T Studies How K9 First Responders Can Join the Team in Active Shooter Scenarios
- News Release: DHS S&T to Engage Innovators on Detection Canine Research
- News Release: S&T Awards Auburn University $565K to Improve Canine Detection of Explosives
- Regional Explosive Detection Dog Initiative, Ft Meyers, FL (video)