Training makes sure SWFL K9s are up to snuff

K9 on a break from training. (Credit: WINK News)
K9 on a break from training. (Credit: WINK News)

Talented dogs are learning how to sniff through dangerous situations to keep the public safe from threats. The Dept. of Homeland Security trained Southwest Florida’s K9s Tuesday to make sure they are prepared for real-life scenarios.

Police officers, Sheriff’s Deputies, any member of law enforcement will say K9 Units are as vital as any other member in their agency.

“These canines are the first line of defense when it comes to terrorism threats to our public,” said Hendry County Sheriff Steve Whidden. “These guys make it happen these guys are what keep us safe at night.”

Whidden sent his and welcomed many other K9 Units from across the region to the Hendry County Correctional Institute because you can teach dogs new and important tricks.

It is called the regional explosive detection dog initiative, or REDDI.

“We’re so thankful to have them on board to put on this type of training to keep us up-to-date,” Whidden said.

Donald Roberts, who works for the Dept. of Homeland Security and organizes the event, said the initiative is a way to share knowledge between law enforcement entities.

“Unique piece of this is that we set up operational relevant problems as you see here behind us,” Roberts said. “These guys are going through what they would go through in a normal operation.

“They’re searching an area unknown to them,” Roberts said, “specific odors that they are trained to detect in concealment methods that they’re going to encounter.”

Homeland Security works with 4,000 K9s across the nation. The goal is to create a unified structure in the way these animals are trained. But there is more than training that gets done here.

“If these guys are doing something really well, then we go out to the west coast and say we want to be the focal point and share that knowledge,” Roberts said. “Be a place to provide that for them.”

It is through these sessions that Homeland Security believes these four-legged Officers and Deputies maximize their ability to protect and serve.

“It’s teamwork with law-enforcement,” Whidden said. “I can’t say enough about it.”

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