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7 SECTION 2: THE PROS AND CONS Many transportation executives considering K9 options may wonder how these programs work and what, exactly, they could offer an organization whose primary mission is to move people safely and securely. Table 1 identifies how the nine agencies interviewed by the research team use K9 units in their operations. TABLE 1: USE OF K9S IN PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION FUNCTION OF TEAMS DEPLOYED BY K9 TYPE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION SYSTEMS WITH K9 UNITS A M TR A K B A R T C TA H ou st on M ET R O M A R TA M B TA N FT A SE PT A W M A TA Deterrent patrols in stations, platforms, vehicles, transfer centers, and parking facilities X X X X X X X X X Support special events management or crowd control X X X X X Track persons, including lost or missing children X X X X X Perform safety checks of public transportation facilities X X X X X Locate victims of fires, earthquakes, or other natural disasters and provide aid during public transportation emergencies X Pursue or search for persons that threaten the safety of the handler and/or other persons X X X X X X X Defend and/or protect public safety officers or other persons X X X X X Support narcotics searches and forfeiture programs X X X X X X Perform explosives detection, clearing of suspicious packages, and pre-event searches X X X X X X The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) in Boston has one of the nationâs oldest and most successful public transportation K9 units. Table 2 summarizes this program, providing an in-depth illustration of how this resource can be integrated throughout public transportation operations. This summary also identifies key issues associated with operating and evaluating a K9 program.
8 TABLE 2: DESCRIPTION OF MBTA K9 PROGRAM MBTA deploys one of the nationâs largest public transportation K9 units with 11 teams supervised by a dedicated K9 Sergeant. K9 teams are used: â to support preventative patrol in stations and facilities; â to perform safety checks, ensuring that unauthorized personnel are not in restricted areas, tunnels, or rail right-of-way; â to support preparation for and management of special events; â to track fleeing suspects and support police apprehensions; â to support the delivery of warrants and high-risk arrests; â to search for narcotics and explosives; â to escort money trucks to their destinations; â to provide executive protection (during strikes and major events); and â to enhance community relations through public demonstrations. At any one time, the public transportation system has nine teams scheduled to cover three shifts, providing 24/7 service for the system. Patrol teams are deployed in stations, in cruisers, at the rail yard, in parking lots, and on surface patrols (bus lines). They also respond to calls outside of their system. Through reciprocal programs, MBTA police have built strong relationships with other law enforcement agencies and share programs and training facilities with the Boston Police Department. MBTAâs K9 unit works closely with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the local K9 association, and corrections facilities. Over the last few years, MBTA K9âs have netted more than $1 million worth of narcotics. MBTA K9 teams appear at demonstrations whenever possible to provide positive publicity for the transportation system. MBTA police prefer to use German Shepherds and Labrador dogs for their unit. The Labradors, renowned for their intelligence, endurance, and trainability, are used primarily for explosives detection, as they are not temperamentally suited for the apprehension component of patrol work. MBTAâs German Shepherds are generally trained as dual purpose dogs, meaning they perform both patrol and narcotics detection functions. The unitâs philosophy on German Shepherds is that although âthey are not first at anything, they are second at everything,â meaning they are extremely versatile. The unit normally obtains their dogs from a vendor or breeder when they are between 12 and 18 months of age. After careful evaluation, MBTA trains them for service in the public transportation environment. In the past, MBTA obtained pre-trained dogs, but later determined that the benefits of training their own dogs and matching them with their handlers, earlier in the process, outweighed the costs of additional training. In evaluating a dog, trainers look for overall calm temperament and reaction to gunfire or loud noises for patrol work, whereas they select dogs with a high retrieval drive for specialty detection functions. MBTA policies dictate that their dogs must be certified to the United States Police Canine Association's (USPCA) Police Dog I Certification, which requires that an officer and his/her canine must score a minimum number of points at a regionally sanctioned USPCA trial. The test to obtain certification is made up of four parts: Obedience, Agility, Evidence and Suspect Search, and Criminal Apprehension. This certification must be renewed every 2 years. In addition, MBTA maintains its own internal performance
9 TABLE 2: DESCRIPTION OF MBTA K9 PROGRAM standards for evaluating the progress of K9 teams. MBTA handlers must be highly evaluated officers, in good physical condition, who own their own homes. MBTA handlers bring their K9s home with them when not in service and must have space sufficient for a kennel that provides protection from the elements. Trainers are generally experienced handlers with several years of practical work in the field. Supervisors do not have to be former handlers or trainers, but must have extensive knowledge of the K9 unit standard operating procedures and protocol. MBTA top management receives familiarization training from the K9 unit and attends graduations, special ceremonies, and demonstrations to keep in contact with the K9 unit and their operations. MBTAâs biggest challenge is acclimating dogs to the rail transportation environment. The dogs experience a range of reactions to rail stations and trains. Issues such as track and yard familiarizations, managing canines in crowds, and tunnel pursuits are part of normal K9 training and have been developed based on experience. The dogs are only muzzled in training and never while on patrol. To bring on a new team, MBTA will first provide 14 weeks of basic training, evaluate the team, and then certify them for duty. The first assignments are differentiated by shifts, which are bid on by handlers. They are required to have regular monthly evaluations and, if there are problems identified, the trainer works with the team to improve their efficiency. K9 teams work 7 hours per day with the remaining time set aside for care and feeding of the dog. MBTA has many facilities where they can train their dogs. They have both indoor and outdoor classrooms, as well as access to transportation stations, buses, and rail cars. For certain types of field work, they use Boston Police facilities located in a rural area. Handlers attend in-service training for 2 days per month. The trainer will supervise individuals or groups, and they mostly do field work during this period. They rely upon contractors for explosives detection and specialty training. Some teams are selected to attend conferences provided by external agencies. LESSONS LEARNED FROM THE INDUSTRY Once public transportation executives have a sense of how K9 units could support their operations, they should consider lessons learned from those who have been there. Table 3 displays the pros and cons of setting up a K9 unit, as given by the various interviewed transportation systems with K9 units already in existence.
10 TABLE 3: THE PROS AND CONS THE PROS THE CONS 1. Good for public relations, supports outreach with community and media, and provides strong symbol for public safety. 2. Effective tool for deterrence and order maintenance, passengers generally like K9 unit, criminals are often fearful of trained police dogs. 3. Supports a higher level of officer safety, criminal fear of dogs reduces resistance during apprehension. 4. More effective resource for facility searches, one K9 team can perform the work of four patrol officers. 5. Most effective resource available for non- repetitive detection of narcotics and explosives, no technology or other resource is better. 6. One K9 team can perform dual functions, supporting both patrol and either drug or explosives detection. 7. Grants are currently available for dual function patrol and drug detection dogs. 1. Consequences of poor planning are exacerbated by the importance of initial decision making to program capabilities and performance. Bad decisions cannot easily be overcome. 2. Reliance on outside technical support is often necessary to start program, a major vulnerability for a system new to this function. Good help is hard to find. 3. High program start-up costs, not averaged evenly over time, places large emphasis on cost savings during the phase of project when spending is most essential. 4. Difficulty of finding good dogs, patrolling the transportation environment places additional strains on K9s, selection testing is critical, but expensive and not ready- made for public transportation. 5. Difficulty of selecting the right handler, public transportation systems with limited experience may value the wrong traits or fail to recognize potential shortcomings prior to a major investment. 6. Legal and public relations consequences of bites, the public has zero tolerance for what it may perceive as inappropriate force exerted by police dogs. 7. Demands of K9 administration are high for a supervisor with other responsibilities. Scheduling challenges limit availability of K9s for service. 8. Success requires a long-term investment, several months to a year for results. 9. Constant effort is required to ensure that law enforcement and operations personnel are using the resources of the K9 unit.
11 THE PROS Public Relations Canine units can be powerful tools for practicing good public relations. Demonstrations and other events leave an impression on attendees, particularly school children and members of the press, generating positive publicity for the security program. Images of canines can certainly support advertising campaigns and Web pages for the system, and provide an easily recognizable symbol of the public transportation systemâs commitment to public safety. Deterrence and Order Maintenance Canines have a pronounced deterrent effect. They are noticed (and generally approved of) by passengers and feared by criminals. The presence of a canine and an officer, in a patrol vehicle or standing nearby, generally encourages those observing them to follow the rules of the public transportation system. Canine units, therefore, can be valuable resources for order maintenance when deployed at hot spots for juvenile misbehavior, during special events, in parking lots, and at intermodal stations.1 For similar reasons, canine units, when deployed to perform preventive patrol at rail-grade crossings, demonstrate high levels of effectiveness in changing the behavior of juveniles and motorists at the crossing and, through interaction with the public at these crossings, in reinforcing safe behavior. Officer Safety Because canines are feared by criminals, using them during response to calls for service involving burglary, robbery, and assault typically reduces the level of force required to resolve these situations and often results in a documented decrease in assaults and injuries to police officers during suspect apprehensions.2 Facility Searches Typically, station, tunnel, and facility searches are more effective, thorough, and safe when using a police work dog. Research has shown that, with the use of a properly trained police work dog, the search time is usually cut down to approximately one- 1Walter Conway and Jim Watson, North American Police Working Dog Association (NAPWDA), Establishing a New K9 Unit: The Small Department, 2001. http://www.napwda.com/tips/070798.shtml. 2 Ibid.
12 quarter of the time taken by patrol officers alone, with an extremely high degree of success in determining whether the suspect is or was recently inside the building.3 Drug and Explosives Detection Trained canines represent one of the most widely used and time-proven methods for the detection of illicit drugs and explosives. In principle, dogs can be trained to detect any type of drug or explosive. This versatility, combined with a dog's superior mobility and its ability to follow a scent directly to the source, makes canine detection the method of choice for a variety of applications that have a significant search component. Further, because dogs detect minute trace components, they are less likely to provide false positives on those materials that may alarm mechanical detection equipment. In short, for non-repetitive search functions, in which accuracy is critical, canines out- perform the best available technology.4 Dual Functions Canines used in the transportation environment can be trained for dual functions (e.g., patrol and either drugs or explosives detection). No single dog should ever be trained for both narcotics and explosives detection. In times of heightened security, this capability means that the same canine team that supports preventive patrol and officer safety during apprehensions can also respond to calls for suspected explosives, proactively screen deliveries, perform perimeter checks, evaluate abandoned packages, support executive protection during strikes or major events (screening for car and letter bombs), and support the management of special events. Federal Funding for Patrol and/or Drug Detection Federal funding is available to support the deployment of dual function patrol and/or drug-detector dogs. The Department of Justice, through the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office, and through the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), administers a variety of non-formula-based grant programs. BJAâs State and Local Assistance Division (SSLA) administers the Edward Byrne Memorial State and the Local Law Enforcement Block Grants (LLEBG) Programs, whose funds are available for canine programs. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) also provide grants for canine programs. In addition, some states and local governments use drug-related forfeiture funds to support canine start- up and training costs. Typically, these grant programs have very few strings and generally support programs aimed at reducing both drugs and crime. 3 Ibid. 4 Dr. John E. Parmeter, Dale W. Murray and David W. Hannum. Guide for the Selection of Drug Detectors for Law Enforcement Applications. NIJ Guide 601-00. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice. Washington, DC, 1999.
13 THE CONS Starting Up K9 Units Requires Planning To be effective, many elements regarding the program must be decided ahead of time. This includes the size of the unit, the functions to be performed by the unit, the source of the dogs and selection criteria, the training to be provided for the dog(s) and handler(s), and the way in which the new unit will be integrated into existing operations. Unlike many other security deployments, in which learning can occur incrementally, the decisions made during the initial procurement and staffing of the K9 unit will have tremendous consequences on its ability to perform. Research demonstrates that K9 programs fail primarily for the following reasons, all of which can be related directly to activities performed during initial planning: â systems choose the wrong vendor to select their dogs, train their handlers, and support their program; â management provides poor supervision; â administrators provide poor support; â the personnel that need to use the resource to make it valuable receive little or no training; and â systems use handlers who do not understand their responsibilities or are not sufficiently trained to follow through with them. Reliance on Outside Experts Policing with K9s is a unique expertise, outside of the knowledge of most transportation executives. In this situation, the advice and recommendations provided by peer transportation systems and vendors assume more weight than may usually be the case. This dependence on subject matter experts, who may understand little about the hazards of the public transportation environment and the dynamics of the organization that must manage the unit, brings inherent vulnerabilities into program development and implementation. High Start-Up Costs K9 programs require most of their investment up front, many weeks and months before the unit enters service. This situation creates an inherent tension between short-term and long-term planning objectives. There often is a desire to limit start-up costs, even if, when averaged over the expected performance life of the dog, these costs are actually lower than technology solutions (when averaged over a similar period of time). Yet, limiting investment in dog selection, dog testing, dog and handler training, and procedures development is the very activity that will damage the program down the road. When purchasing a trained dog from a vendor, public transportation systems may receive pressure to limit the amount of time spent by the handler on site at the trainerâs
14 facility. Managers of these transportation systems may believe that they cannot afford to send an officer away on a 12 to 16 week training program, as they cannot have an officer away for that period of time. Instead, the officer is sent for a 3- to 4-week course of training, referred to as the short program. Transportation personnel participating in this project encouraged all agencies to be wary of the short program and its seeming cost-effectiveness. The officer who is sent to a short program is only given the minimum amount of training required to handle the dog. Through no fault of the training agency, he or she is only given a small portion of the training really required to do the job. During the short program, the officer can only be taught basic handling skills. Yet, there is a distinct difference between training a dog and handling a dog. One can handle a well-trained dog by giving it appropriate direction and working with the animal. The short program may provide this competency. However, one cannot train a dog by simply learning how to handle it. The ability to train requires not only course work on animal behavior but also the opportunity to build skills through exercises and fieldwork under the supervision of a qualified trainer. This core skill will not be developed during the short program. Without this skill, the handler will not be able to manage the dog, particularly if access to training will be limited once he or she returns to the public transportation system and is immediately placed back in service. Finding Good Dogs There are no guarantees that the dog(s) ultimately selected by the program will perform as intended. Although some vendors may say that any dog can be trained to perform in any environment, this is simply not true. Selection criteria and testing are critical, even if they increase the initial costs of the program (which they probably will). Some dogs are afraid of elevators, escalators, or trains. Some dogs are distracted by linoleum and other shiny surfaces. Some dogs are incapable of safely navigating through crowds and managing children who may reach out to pet them while they are working. Some dogs are distracted by the humming of the third rail or the overwhelming mass of scents in a transportation station. Some dogs will never be able to protect their handlers on stairwells, ramps, or in other locations, which may give a suspect a perceived height advantage. Some dogs are too aggressive to be deployed on preventive patrol. These dogs must be weeded out before the transportation system invests in their training. Transportation K9s must be thinking dogs. They must be calm, approachable, and able to perform a variety of tasks in many environments. Vendors may be more likely to emphasize power and effectiveness at a single set of tasks. When giving advice, local law enforcement and consultants may not appreciate this distinction in service needs. Transportation systems will have to remain firm in defining and fulfilling their needs, even against a hard sell. The potential liability of an ill-equipped dog patrolling among the riding public demands nothing less.
15 Finding Good Handlers Administrators need to select test handlers just as closely as vendors select test dogs. Handlers need to be highly motivated individuals who are in good physical shape. They must be committed to training the K9 and learning to work with it in a unique partnership. From the moment the K9 and handler first meet, until the K9 is retired, some part of every day may be spent in training. Not every officer is equipped for this type of responsibility, and not every agency can appreciate the importance of the need for ongoing training, certification, and situation drills. K9 handlers must be willing to take correction from trainers and to learn from mistakes. They must appreciate the social aspect of the K9 patrol and the reactions of the public to the K9. They must be good public speakers and able to manage a varied work schedule. They must have good judgment and a strong performance history. Consequences of a Bite Vendors and specialists emphasize the skills and capabilities of their dogs in suspect apprehension. They may actively encourage bite-and-hold methods of apprehension, in which the dog bites the suspectâs arm and holds it until recalled by the handler. This introduces an element of aggression that may not be appropriate for dogs deployed in the public transportation environment, and, in fact, may be dangerous. After all, most transportation systems arrest a large number of juveniles, and the public relations implications associated with either directing a dog against a juvenile or a dog biting an innocent person could be disastrous. Most transportation systems advocate the bark- and-hold method, in which the dog corners the suspect and barks at the suspect until recalled. In any case, liability and policy issues regarding suspect apprehension must be resolved very early on during the planning process. Some insurance carriers may charge additional fees, or require specific guarantees regarding K9 units, to protect the transportation system from lawsuits arising out of K9 apprehensions, K9 bites, and K9 performance. Transportation legal counsel may also have special concerns regarding these units that must be addressed. At a minimum, K9 units should keep detailed records on their activities for training, evaluation, certifications, assignments, and responses to calls for service. The public transportation system must review its current use of force continuum and establish procedures for managing canine bites. Demands of K9 Administration Too often, administrators are not sufficiently skilled to supervise the K9 program. A transportation system with only one or two K9 units cannot appoint a full-time supervisor; yet the demands of overseeing the unit are high. Supervisors must set performance standards for the K9 teams to support ongoing evaluation. These standards are in addition to the certification program required for initial deployment. Supervisors need to review the training records on the dogs on a regular basis. They need to visit the weekly training and become familiar with the capabilities and
16 weaknesses of each dog team. They need to verify that weaknesses are addressed in training. Supervisors also need to visit units in other departments to watch and discuss training and deployment procedures. The supervisor must ensure that all training, performance, certification, and medical records for the K9 teams are maintained and in good order. Scheduling is another administrative challenge. Training, grooming, exercising, feeding, and breaks all cut into the K9 unitâs workday, which averages less than 6 hours of deployment time for an 8-hour shift. Four to five units are required for 24/7 coverage, with one unit available all of the time, rather than the traditional three patrol officers. Although many K9 officers are willing to work overtime and remain available to take emergency calls, effective scheduling of the K9 unit is critical, particularly if the agency is only beginning its program with one or two K9 teams. Success Requires a Long-Term Investment Administrators (without experience) may expect to see immediate results. They may compare their handlersâ results to other experienced handlersâ results in the closest jurisdiction. No administrator expects new officers or employees to perform at the same level as an experienced veteran, but failure to recognize the importance of training and experience often leads these same people to expect top-level results from a new canine unit. If there are problems with the dogs, training, or equipment, these administrators may not have the same degree of patience. Dogs are not machines, and K9 teams must be treated as new recruits. Most experts say that it takes at least 1 year for a new dog team to gain the confidence needed to reach peak performance. The elite Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) canine program administration believes this so strongly that, after putting their new handlers through a 20-week training course, they give them 1 year in the field and then bring them back to the training center to recertify at a higher standard. Familiarization and Deployment K9 programs are not going to survive if the dogs are not used. This is a common problem. Transportation police and other personnel have to feel comfortable calling for the dogs. The only way this is going to happen is if the police have gone through in- service training to understand the capabilities of the dogs. If other officers and transportation personnel feel that the K9 handlers want to be called when an incident comes up, then generally they will call them. Supervisors must develop and enforce policies to make sure that the K9 teams are used in service.
17 THE BOTTOM LINE There are a number of issues that must be considered when evaluating whether to start up a K9 unit in the public transportation environment. The transportation systems interviewed for this Guide recommend that management carefully consider the pros and cons of a K9 unit and make a decision based on the following five factors. Level of Commitment K9 units can support transportation security operations, but only if management is willing to commit and invest in this valuable resource. Inevitably, there will be struggles along the way. If management is looking for a short-term solution to heightened threat levels providing immediate results, a K9 program is not the answer. Understanding and Support of Challenges K9 deployment is part art, part science. As demonstrated by MBTAâs experience, the role of training and the flexibility of the dogs and the handlers provide the opportunity for the creation of a resource uniquely qualified to support transportation operations. If managers are uncomfortable with the flexibility required to support this program, they should not implement it. Ability to Provide Adequate Resources If managers are unable to provide sufficient resources to select and screen the K9s, to provide adequate initial and in-service training for the team, and to develop policies and procedures that ensure the safety and performance of the team, then the transportation system should not consider the program. Ability to Provide Adequate Supervision A manager who fully understands K9 deployment and training must provide adequate supervision to a program of this nature. If management is unable or unwilling to provide adequate supervision for the K9 unit, understanding that during start-up and initial deployment the supervisor may be required full-time, the transportation system should not attempt to deploy a K9 team. Further, if the system is starting a unit with five or more teams, a full-time K9 Coordinator is essential. Willingness to Enforce Policies and Procedures Introducing a K9 unit may require a culture change in certain parts of the organization. If the transportation system is unwilling to enforce its policies on the use of the K9 team, then the program will never get the opportunity to integrate into transportation operations. If management is not willing to actively support and enforce policies on K9 unit deployment, then the system should not consider the program.
18 For management personnel who can answer affirmatively to these criteria, serious consideration should be given to green-lighting the K9 program. Over the long-term, an effective K9 program can support a more efficient security program, providing valuable tools for facility searches, clearing threats and resolving hoaxes, pre-screening for special events, increasing officer safety during high-risk apprehensions, promoting good public relations, and providing a deterrent effect on criminal behavior. Most of the public transportation systems interviewed for this Guide felt that K9 units increased the public's perception of their competence and enhanced public opinion and respect for the system.