K-9 officers and their dogs from Ardmore Police Department, Carter County Sheriff's Department and Lone Grove Police Department completed a two-day Building Search School Tuesday, winning praise from Professional Law Enforcement Seminar instructors.
"The instructors (Royce Stephens and Thomas Comstock, both Stillwater Police Department) said they were very impressed. They said we had a very good group of dogs and handlers," said Sgt. Keith Ingle, APD K-9 Team supervisor.
The course included two hours of classroom instruction on case law. The balance of the course was what Ingle described as "practical exercises." Six dogs and their handlers, who serve with the three departments were put through their paces.
"Because we had two instructors we were able to have a continuous training cycle," Ingle said. "Each dog received more than 60 scenarios over the two days. When it was over we had some real tired dogs."
The "practical exercises" were conducted in the former Franklin Elementary School building.
"The training is about clearing a building, searching and finding the bad guy," Ingle said. "The dogs must use their noses to find the living creature in the building who is putting out the most adrenalin."
The adrenalin was provided by APD Narcotics Officer Brandon Cathey and Carter County Deputy James VanZant.
"The decoys wear bite suits, which are extremely padded, hot and heavy. The burden of wearing the suit and being in a hot environment increases adrenalin and simulates a person who is attempting to run and/or hide from police," Ingle said. "Brandon and James provided the most important element of the training. It's hot, heavy and hard work to be consistently jumped on and dragged by the dogs. They did a great job and we really appreciated it."
While it is not required for a law enforcement dog to be certified in building searches, Ingle said it is essential the dogs are trained to do the job.
"After watching all the dogs work there is no doubt in my mind every dog that went through the training is capable of doing a building search and doing it successfully," Ingle said.
The course was sponsored by the APD.
"We are pleased to have been able to sponsor this training and have these instructors here. It is in line with our ongoing goal of bringing high level training in all aspects of law enforcement to Ardmore. It is an opportunity for officers from this area to attend valuable training, and contributes to the economic well being of our community at the same time. We will continue to bring instructors and training to Ardmore in hopes of being the training hub for Southern Oklahoma law enforcement," said APD Chief Keith Mann.