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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

SFS hosts training exercise with civilian law enforcement

by Staff Sgt. Kali L. Gradishar
460th Space Wing Public Affairs


3/27/2013 - BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The 460th Security Forces Squadron Military Working Dog Section hosted a training exercise with regional civilian law enforcement agencies March 20 at a training facility here.

Working dog teams from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, Denver Sheriff Department and Transportation Security Administration participated in the exercise, which provided an opportunity to share techniques and build camaraderie between the organizations.

"It's very important to get together and train together so we can learn from each other. Each one of us has our own little tricks to doing things," said Staff Sgt. Ryan Kelly, 460th SFS military working dog trainer. "We all have the same goals in mind, and that's just to make the dogs better."

Combining training also means combining resources, a valuable opportunity for both the dogs and handlers.

"We try to mix it up. We do different training sites, different venues. We use different training aides. That way we're always mixing it up for the dogs," said Deputy J.J. Smith, Jefferson County Sheriff's Department explosive detection K9 handler. "We're always trying to provide environments where the dogs may end up. We use a movie theater. We use a warehouse. We use a school, cars, packages -- you name it.

"If there's a situation we may encounter, we try to train on it," said the handler who works with Flash, an 8-year-old Belgian Malinois.

Just as the various physical training resources offer enhanced training for the dogs and handlers, so too does the relationship-building opportunity. As the handlers get to know one another better, they share stories and lessons learned.

"Our relationships work out really well. ... I really enjoy working with all the other agencies. It gives me a chance to pick up new things for my tool box," Kelly said. "If we're having a problem with a certain aspect of our canine training, they might have an input as far as how to fix that problem or make our dogs advance to another level."

The civilian law enforcement agencies also benefit, as they gather knowledge of the 460th SFS handlers' deployment experiences.

Local handlers learn a lot from recollections of the dog and handler relationship in "actual conditions," Smith said, referring to military missions in the deployed environment. "A lot of times they can bring back ideas of what they've actually seen over there.

"The bottom line is, for every organization, everybody has a different way of training canines, and everybody's idea is just as valid as another's," he added. "The ultimate goal is to get their canine team better. We're not machines, but we're training so we have a high success rate."

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