The RCMP Police Dog Service Training Centre has developed a safe method to teach narcotic K9 teams to train and search for Fentanyl and it’s analogs.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) police service dog teams are an important part of front line policing.
They search for missing or lost people, track and apprehend criminals, remove illicit drugs from the streets, detect explosives and search for evidence used in crimes.
This is a first of it’s kind in the world and has proven effective through K9 seizures after training.
A workshop at the RCMP’s dog training centre in Alberta has attracted officers and animals from police forces across the continent eager to see the centre’s pioneering work tackling the scourge of fentanyl.
“No agency in the world was conducting fentanyl detection for police dog service,” explained Staff Sgt. Eric Stebenne, senior trainer at the RCMP police dog service training centre in Innisfail, Alta.
“We really got interested in finding a safe way to introduce fentanyl detection as part of our program.”
Close to three dozen people from Canadian, U.S. and Mexican law enforcement agencies, some bringing their own dogs, completed the first two-day workshop to learn RCMP methods for training dogs to search for fentanyl.
(The RCMP are deploying more dogs to help get fentanyl off the streets. Courtesy of 660 News and YouTube. Posted on Aug 22, 2017)
“It is particularly efficient, making the dogs in the field extremely productive,” explains Stebenne.
Since fentanyl can be deadly if inhaled, the RCMP needed to create a diluted, liquid form so the dogs could safely learn the scent without the risk of inhaling airborne particles.
The training program is so new, Stebenne said the pilot program that trained the first three dogs only happened last year.
But he said it saw success quickly, with one of the dogs intercepting 12,000 fentanyl pills in British Columbia.
In February, the RCMP announced it would train all 139 RCMP narcotics dog teams across Canada to detect fentanyl and word of their work spread.
(RCMP specialists make a diluted liquid-based form of the drug that the dogs can smell, and learn to recognize, without any risk of them ingesting it. You can see the dog sit to alert the officers to the presence of fentanyl. Courtesy of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and YouTube)
“My office started getting phone calls from all around the world, more specifically from Canada, the United States and Mexico, of different police departments and agencies very interested in learning from what we had done as it relates to fentanyl detection,” Stebenne said.
The RCMP decided to host a workshop to teach others how to train dogs for fentanyl, and invited everyone who had called.
Fentanyl is an opioid about 100 times more toxic than morphine. It can cause serious harm, including death, police say.
It has been used in tablets made to look like prescription drugs.
The coroner’s service in B.C. reported that the powerful painkiller fentanyl was detected in 72 per cent of people who died from overdoses in the first four months of this year, up from 60 per cent last year.
Safe training protocols stressed
The opioid fentanyl has already been responsible for hundreds of deaths in Alberta alone.
Stebenne said it’s not difficult to train a dog already trained for narcotics detection to sniff out fentanyl, noting it can be achieved in as little as two or three repetitions.
The dogs are happy to do it for a reward such as a ball, he said.
But the safety protocols are serious.
First, Stebenne said there’s a dedicated room at the training facility and the liquid fentanyl is on a secured side, and neither the dogs nor their handlers can directly access the sample.
Second, when the animal locates the sample, it doesn’t aggressively go after it.
Rather, it sits, and that’s the signal to the handler that it has found what it’s searching for.
Every handler carries antidote
In the real world, the fentanyl wouldn’t be in a safe form so every handler carries Naloxone — the antidote for fentanyl — in the form of a nasal spray that can be administered to dogs as well as people.
Handlers also carry injectable Narcan, which they’ve always carried for heroin, but which also works for fentanyl.
The goal of the workshop is for the attendees to go back home and develop their own fentanyl detection training system.
“Dogs can really adapt and locate any scent, really.”
“There’s really no limit to what they can smell,” Stebenne said.
One of the three dog teams to take the new training so far has already intercepted 12,000 tablets in B.C., the force says.
“I do believe the Canadian population is safer because of our new fentanyl dog training,” Insp. Akrum Ghadban, the officer in charge of the training centre, said in a recent news release.
“By keeping more fentanyl off the street, we save Canadian lives.”
RCMP Police Dog Program
The RCMP uses purebred German shepherds as well as Belgian shepherds (Malinois) in perfect physical condition.
The RCMP considers these breeds to be the best choice for police work as they are adaptable, versatile, strong, courageous and able to work under extreme climatic conditions.
Male dogs are usually chosen. A dog entering the RCMP training program has a 17 percent chance of succeeding due to the high standards required.
The dog starts its police training when it is from 12 to 18 months old.
Basic training is approximately 17 weeks, but training never really ends as daily practice is required to maintain a high level of physical and mental fitness.
Dogs and handlers are validated to the Doghandler Course Training Standard Field Level capability annually.
In 1937, Commissioner MacBrien, satisfied with the value of police dogs, ordered an RCMP training school for dogs and handlers to be established at Calgary.
In 1940, the RCMP won its first case involving dog search evidence.
Police Dog Service Training Centre
The RCMP Police Dog Service Training Centre was established at Innisfail, Alberta in 1965.
The training staff comprises one officer in charge, one staff sergeant program manager, one staff sergeant senior trainer, five sergeant trainers, one acquisition sergeant, two corporal pre-trainers and a support staff of six public service employees.
RCMP Police Dog Annual Naming Contest
Every year, the RCMP Police Dog Service Training Centre (PDSTC) holds a contest to name puppies born into the training service with a winner chosen in each of the provinces and territories of Canada.
On this particular year, RCMP PDS Training Centre received close to 21,000 entries and the winner for Prince Edward Island is Aiden Murnaghan of Donagh.
Aiden submitted the name “Knight” and P.E.I. RCMP PDS team Cst. Kristian Thomsen and his canine partner, Fleck, surprised Aiden at the Donagh Regional School to let him know that he won the contest for P.E.I. and provide him with some gifts to remember the event.
The names have been suggested by boys and girls representing every province and territory in Canada.
The RCMP Police Dog Service Training Centre is the training centre for all RCMP police dog teams in Canada.
The names of the first 13 puppies to be born at the PDSTC in Innisfail, Alberta, have now been chosen.
To learn more about the dangers of fentanyl, the RCMP has provided the following link which includes Facts, Signs, Symptoms and Tips at http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/en/what-is-fentanyl.
See the RCMP in Action
Hear from Handlers and what it’s like to be a member of the RCMP Police Dog Unit and the personal lives of a Police K-9 Unit.
(Learn More about the RCMP Dog Unit training, courtesy of Chad Klassen and YouTube)
RCMP Police Dog Service Training Centre in 2017 ‘ASTORS’ Homeland Security Awards Program
The 2017 ‘ASTORS’ Homeland Security Awards Program, is organized to recognize the most distinguished vendors of Physical, IT, Port Security, Law Enforcement, First Responders, (Fire, EMT, Military, Support Services Vets, SBA, Medical Tech) as well as the Federal, State, County and Municipal Government Agencies – to acknowledge their outstanding efforts to ‘Keep our Nation Secure, One City at a Time.’
As an ‘ASTORS’ competitor, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Police Dog Service Training Centre will be competing against the industry’s leading providers of Innovative CBRNE Detection Solutions.
American Security Today will be holding the 2017 ‘ASTORS’ Awards Presentation Luncheon at 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m, Wednesday, November 15th at ISC East, the Northeast’s largest security industry event, in the Jacob Javits Exhibition Center in New York City.
At ISC East you will have the chance to meet with technical reps from over 225 leading brands in the security industry, allowing you to find out about new products and stay ahead of the competition.
Encompassing everything from Video Surveillance and Access Control to Smart Home Technologies and Unmanned Security, you’re sure to find products and services that will benefit your company and clients.
Good luck to the RCMP Police Dog Service Training Centre on becoming a Winner of the 2017 American Security Today’s Homeland Security Awards Program!
Click here to learn more about the RCMP Police Dog Service Training Centre.