CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Thanks to federal funding, the canine unit will soon grow from four bomb-sniffing police dogs to seven at the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA).
This month, three Transit Police will leave Cleveland for 10 weeks of rigorous training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio,Texas, which is regarding as the top canine training facility in the nation. The officers and their new canine partners will return to Cleveland in mid-December.
"The addition of three TSA-certified dogs to the RTA will complement existing security throughout the entire local transit system," says Michael Young, TSA's regional Federal Security Director. "These dogs are specially trained to detect improvised explosive devices and will provide another layer of security in safeguarding RTA for its riders, its employees and the public."
Transit Police Chief John Joyce agreed.
"Trained canines provide an increased level of security. We are fortunate to have a well-staffed canine unit, and we truly appreciate the on-going support of the TSA to make this happen. Every transit rider will benefit."
RTA's first bomb-sniffing dogs were added in 2006.
TSA's National Explosives Detection Canine Team Program prepares dogs and handlers to serve on the front lines of America's "War on Terror." These effective, mobile teams can quickly locate and identify dangerous materials that may present a threat to transit systems. They can quickly rule out the presence of dangerous materials in unattended packages, structures or vehicles, allowing the free and efficient flow of transit users.
During the Explosives Detection Canine Handler Course at Lackland, police officers are paired with one of TSA's canine teammates. These dogs are bred specifically for the program by TSA. German Shepherds, Belgian Malanoises, Vizslas and other types of dogs are used in the program because of their keen noses and affinity for this type of work. In addition to providing a highly trained dog and handler training, TSA helps fund handler salaries, care and feeding of the canines, veterinary and other costs associated with the dog, after the teams return to their hometowns.
After dog and handler are paired up, they learn to locate and identify a wide variety of dangerous materials while working as an effective unit. This training includes search techniques, as well as procedures for identifying dangerous materials and alerting the handler when these materials are present.