INDIANAPOLIS (Nov. 6, 2013) -- The Indiana National Guard hosted explosive-detection training for local, state and national first responders, Nov. 4.
Included among the participants in the multi-agency training were members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Transportation Security Administration, the Indiana State Police, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and the Marion County Sherriff's Department.
"One of the threats that is still out there now, in addition to al-Qaida, is homegrown terrorists," said John Beckius, an assistant federal security director with the Transportation Security Administration.
For homegrown terrorists, the weapon of choice is homemade explosives, Beckius said.
During training at the Indiana National Guard headquarters in Indianapolis, the FBI provided two types of homegrown explosives - triacetone triperoxide and hexamethylene triperoxide diamine.
These peroxide-based explosives are turning up more often, and are new threats post-9/11, said Tim Carpenter, an FBI special agent and bomb technician.
Because terrorists are using those explosives more frequently, first responders have to be ready to combat the new techniques. The first-response agencies rely on explosive-detecting dogs to find harmful substances.
"For most K-9 programs, it's the first time they've been exposed to these explosives," Carpenter said.
Once detection dogs are exposed to a new explosive during training, they can be taught to react appropriately to it. This is a process dog handlers called "imprinting." After that, the dogs will know what to do when they detect those substances in the field.
"It's a worthwhile training scenario set up by the FBI and TSA," said Craig Patton, an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Officer and K-9 training supervisor. "It's a chance to re-familiarize the dog with these particular odors. It's very beneficial."
Patton said the last time Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department dogs encountered the peroxide-based explosives was in training prior to 2012 Super Bowl.
Other dog handlers agreed about the training's benefits.
For Sgt. Bill Carpenter, an officer with the Indianapolis Airport Police who works with a German shepherd named Aston, it's a chance for Carpenter's dog to hone his skills.
"It's good training," Carpenter said. "It's been six months since he's been exposed to the odor. He's good, but I need him to refine his techniques."
First Sgt. Jason Wootten, the senior enlisted adviser for the 53rd Civil Support Team, said the Airmen and Soldiers of the Civil Support Team stand ready to assist and advise civil authorities whenever they are called upon -- including for training events.
"We have a great working relationship with fire and police departments throughout our great state," Wootten said.
Beckius summed up multi-agency training was so important.
"We are all supportive of each other," Beckius said. "When there are large events -- Final Four, Super Bowl, the (Indianapolis) 500 -- no department can handle them by itself."