Detection Canine Unit
The Canine Unit of the NIH Division of Police consists of officer and dog (Labradors, Pointers, etc.) teams trained to work together as Explosive Detections Canine (EDC) Teams on NIH’s Bethesda and Ft. Detrick, Maryland campuses and at Rocky Mountain Laboratories (RML) in Hamilton, Montana. These teams train together and the dogs are fully cared for as members of their police officer partner’s family. A few of the dogs have been purchased from vendors, or donated by private parties and others have been adopted from The Seeing Eye Foundation of Morristown, N.J. Prior to selection for training as EDC candidates these dogs are screened for medical suitability, “fetch drive” (their want to chase a toy) stamina and their ability to work passively in and around members of the public. The day to day focus of these teams is searching for explosives and/or firearms at campus entry points, responding to calls for suspicious packages, and the performance of area sweeps proceeding special events. The teams perform 6,000-7,000 scans per month of various types on the several NIH campuses. NIH Police canines are considered “Police Working Dogs”, which means that they should not be approached by employees or visitors while on duty performing scans. However, generally speaking the dogs love people and have great personalities, so meeting them is encouraged with the handler’s permission.
In addition to their duties for NIH, the canine teams, upon request will assist other Federal, State, and Local police forces with their explosive and firearm detection related incidents. You may have seen NIH Police Canine Teams at Presidential Inaugurations, the National Independence Day Celebration and many other major Metro DC public events. The NIH Police Canine Unit has also provided initial EDC training and recurring retraining programs both internally and also for U.S. Marshal Service, U.S. Park Police, U.S. Forest Service, Smithsonian Institution, Federal Protective Service and NIST Police EDC teams. In their Community Policing efforts they provide education to NIH and external organizations on the subjects of ‘what to look for in sighting and reporting “suspicious” articles’ and ‘citizen response to Terrorist Alerts and Incidents’. The teams also participate in regional joint training exercises. The Canine Unit Trainer ensures that the proper equipment, training, training aides and recertification is available for all NIH Police, Explosive Detection Canine Teams.
The canine teams’ skills and abilities may be seen by the NIH community during Police Awareness Day, “Bring Your Child to Work” day and during several, periodic educational events sponsored by the Division of Police.
For more information concerning the Canine Unit, contact Sergeant Alan Blaum at 301-594-9636.