Westover hosts K-9 training seminar during National Police Week

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  • By Staff Sgt. Dylan Auger

Coinciding with National Police Week, officers and K-9s from 41 local law enforcement agencies visited Westover for a week long certification seminar in conjunction with the Massachusetts Police Work Dog Association.

Multiple stations were set up around the base to test and certify K-9s and their handlers in numerous tasks in the areas of obedience, aggression, drug sniffing, bomb sniffing, and human recovery.

Dwayne Foisy is the Vice President of the North American Police Work Dog Association and a master trainer for utility dogs and narcotic dogs. He was present on base to assist with the certification and training of the law enforcement officers and K-9s.

Foisy took part in the obedience station, where K-9s had to exhibit their ability to obey commands from their handlers while off leash. “The handler has to be in complete control of the K-9,” said Foisy. “They perform commands such as heeling, sitting down, recalls, and a 3 minute long downstate.”

At another station across the base, K-9s were tested for their ability to control their aggression. Foisy said there were three phases of the scenario that included the termination of a chase where the K-9 has to respond to being called off and recalled, an exchange of gunfire between the officer and suspect to test the K-9s ability to remain under control, and then an apprehension of the suspect where the K-9 bites and holds until commanded to release.

“The handler has to demonstrate that he has control of the K-9 to both stop his pursuit and be recalled,” said Foisy.
Other stations set up around base included having the K-9s search and alert the officer of narcotics, explosives, and human scent in various scenarios.

Foisy said the stations are set up under a pass or fail system, but that the K-9 teams have multiple attempts to certify at each station.
If K-9 teams are unable to certify during the week long training, they would have to contact a master trainer in order to test for the certification at a later date.

“That’s what’s nice about this week,” said Foisy. “They can work with the master trainer at the station they struggled with and have a chance to retest before the end of the week.”