BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Fine-tuning an already fine sense of smell. That’s what Maryland State Police have done with a new group of K-9s.
Alex DeMetrick reports the purpose is to sniff out a bomb on the move.
Imagine a big crowd at BWI Marshall Airport–a lot of people, most of whom are on the move. How do you find the one with an explosive vest outside security screening?
Jass might be the answer. He is a specially trained Maryland State Police K-9.
“What we’ve done is add an additional capability of a moving target,” said Sgt. Scott Scala, Maryland State Police.
Four of the dogs and their handlers have completed three months of training to detect explosives hidden in or under clothing of a moving person. That’s different from almost all other bomb sniffing K-9s who focus on stationary targets like bags and luggage.
In crowds: “We basically scan the air that we’re working through and walking around and the dog is able to pick up the smell of the explosive material and basically trail the individual,” said Scala.
It’s the kind of training that takes a lot of people to perfect. Someone was carrying explosive material in a group of volunteers.
“We start off with maybe one or two, go to three or four, six or seven and then we got the big crowd,” Scala said.
Dog and handler move among them until a nose with ten thousand times a human’s ability to detect scents makes a hit. Maryland is the only state police agency in the nation to use K-9s like this.
“Bottom line is to better protect critical infrastructure, mass transit, venues and large crowd events,” said Don Roberts, Department of Homeland Security.
Experienced handlers were chosen for this new approach.
DeMetrick: “Were you surprised at how well this worked?”
Scala: “I am, but I did have a true belief in it because I know the tremendous capability of the K-9 and the K-9’s nose.”
The specialized training for the K-9s involved a number of parties from the Department of Homeland Security to the Johns Hopkins applied physics lab.
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