I left to come to NY for the seminar on Monday evening, and as I approached the end of the NJ turnpike, I got a hit of nostalgia. I grew up in Monticello, NY and made the trip from there to NYC many times, and as I got on Rt. 17, and then the NYS Thruway, I passed a lot of very familiar territory from my childhood. I haven’t been up in this area of NYS for some time, and it brought back a lot of memories. I arrived in Latham, NY at the hotel aroud 9pm, and I met Sean Siggins, Southern York Regional PD, my co-instructor for the seminar, and we had dinner and talked about the plan.
Classroom for the seminar started the next morning at 9am, and we met the semiar participants. We have a nice group of K9 teams mainly from area K9 units including Cohoes PD (Host), Guilderland PD, SUNY Albany PD, Albany PD, Ulster County SO, Pittsfield MA, and the NYSP and NY Dept of Environmental Conservation. All the participants have been open and friendly and willing to try some new things, as well as sharing their experiences to add to the richness of the material discussed.
On the first day we did lecture on the tactical building search, including approaches to searching adapted from SWAT methodologies, back-up selection and rsponsibilities, and an explanation of how to implement the clear, down and cover method. We then moved to the first training location which was a house and did bitework evals and then started single room clearing work using variable decoy placement. We then walked through 3 man teams doing residential building searches, and also multiple decoys. We talked about and demonstrated methods for improving bite quality.
Many of the dogs had issues with the multiple decoys, as in their inservice training they used a single decoy, and once the dog finds the decoy, the search is called, so the dogs didn’t want to go back into the house, because they believed their work was done. So we discussed the importance of making the dog re-enter the house and find multiple rewards (decoys) during searches. We also worked some of the newer dogs on how to get good head sweeps at doorways, and not have dogs run through doors and bolt to the back of the house. Some of the new dogs also needed work on coming down stairs on the grip, and biting on stairs comofortably. The day adjourned and some stayed late to work on some other issues, some had to get back to prior obligations, and we agreed to meet at 8am the next morning to do searches in a different environment, a high school.
The high school searches began with a simple on leash alarm call, where the teams found a passive subject hiding in a dark room. We worked on having the dogs alert properly on the passive subject, and tactics involved in bringing the subject into custody without a bite, and then with an attack on the back-up officer, and handler. All the dogs performed better than the previous day.
Next we took two officers who were not K9 from the Cohoes PD who came to work with their guy and walked them through back-up responsibilities of a clear, down and cover search. The guys jumped in and were clearly tactically sound cops. They did an awesome job working around the dogs and maintaining their responsibilities. We ran all the teams through with back-up guys, and a hidden suspect. There were good opportunities to instruct the handlers on tactics, dealing with the particular problems that schools present. The dogs did well, and the teams worked well together clearing the building section.
The afternoon was spent doing K9 felony vehicle stops, setting up proper vehicle formations, with appropriate cover positioning, and extraxcting suspects from vehicles, and using the dogs to clear the vehicles once the subject was extracted to be sure nobody else was lurking. The seasoned dogs performed strongly, with only some comments on how to variably reward the sends to the car so the dog will search it multiple times before the approach of the officers to visually clear the car.
Sean Siggins has done outstanding decoy work and has explained the tactical information extremely well. His experience in the field of K9 and as a SWAT team operator give him a unique perspective on using K9s in high risk deployments. Sean McKown of Cohoes PD also did a considerable amount of excellent decoy work both tuesday and wednesday, and has been a tremendous host! As a previous graduate of our decoy seminar, he implemented excellent training in the course of working the scenarios.
Tomorrow we will be starting the day with lecture, and then working on area searches. Pictures from the seminar will posted by friday as a link to our photobucket account, so stay tuned!