Last week was final exam time for Redstone’s military working dogs and their handlers.
David Barnes, headquarters Installation Management Command military working dog program manager, traveled from San Antonio to conduct weeklong certification.
“It’s an annual requirement. And then on top of that, if you have new te
ams or new dog or new handler, they have to go through an Army certification before they can be utilized in law enforcement,” Barnes said.
He pointed out that the presidential elections are coming up, and Department of Army civilian police teams support Secret Service explosive ordnance disposal teams. The Army K-9 teams provide security and force protection of the installation.
The two phases of the certification included a patrol dog/obedience portion, where the dogs were tested on their law enforcement skills Sept. 11-12, and then the detection phase. On Sept. 13, they went to warehouse building 8026 for detection of narcotics or explosives.
“Today we’re going into the detection phase. They have five areas like warehouse, buildings, vehicles,” Barnes said. “They get tested in the environment they’re going to be working in. The detection piece takes the longest because we have to go all through these different areas. And as you can see, it’s going to take a dog quite a bit of time to get through all this area, depending on the size of their search area.
“I guess the easiest way to understand it: It’s like a game of hide and seek because detection is a game for the dog.”
Barnes usually comes to Redstone yearly. He has five installations that have Department of the Army civilian police dogs: Redstone, Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, Fort Buchanan in Puerto Rico, Fort Irwin in California, and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. Joint Base Lewis-McChord has two kennels – a DA civilian police kennel and the military police working dog handlers.
The K-9 teams at last week’s certification included four Army civilian police at Redstone, and three contractor teams. Redstone’s K-9 handlers were Ashtyn Gibson, with her dog Lee; Marcel Chevalier, with his dog Connor; Sgt. Julian Reid, with his dog Paris; and Josh Maynard, with his dog Penge.
The contractor teams were all from Merrill’s Detector Dog Services LLC. They included Scott Hickey, with his dog Niko; Chad Smith with his dogs Adle and Ciro; and Chris Bailey with his dogs Zora and Oakley.
Maynard has been a Redstone police dog handler since November. Penge is his patrol drug dog.
“Really this is like the culmination of months to a year worth of training to see the progress that you have made as a team with your military working dog,” he said.