Military Police Dogs Train for Rio Olympics 2016
By Dialogo November 06, 2015Nice article
Brazil’s Armed Forces are adding seven dogs to the six that are already part of the Canine Action Battalion (BAC for its Portuguese acronym) in order to learn how to sniff for explosives, illegal drugs, and weapons, in addition to helping prevent terrorist attacks at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The dogs in the BAC, which operates under the auspices of Rio de Janeiro's Military Police, are preparing for the international event by helping law enforcement seize drugs and weapons with greater frequency. From January 1-October 31, the canines have aided the Military Police in seizing more than seven tons of drugs after finding more than two tons of narcotics in 2012 and 25 kilograms in 2009.
“This jump is a result of training people and dogs, always within an evolving and specialized process,” said Military Police Colonel Marcelo Nogueira, the commander of the BAC, where he has served for 11 of his 26 years as a police officer.
Dogs trained to use their exceptional sense of smell
The Military Police trains dogs to use their keen sense of smell to detect drugs, explosives, and weapon; they're able to do so because the part of the canine brain that processes smells is proportionately 40 times larger than that in human brains. Moreover, dogs have up to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses, while humans have about six million.
“It is gratifying to be able to rely on the canines,” said Sergeant Bruno Vieira, a BAC dog trainer. “They are able to find things that we humans cannot.”
Sgt. Vieira is among the 189 men and women who joined the BAC by completing the 40-day Police Employment Canine Handler Course or the 16-week Police Employment Canine Trainer Course, which teaches officers how to train the dogs instead of solely being their handlers.
The dogs’ training is the same: whether they are searching for weapons, drugs, or explosives, the canines are taught to remain composed so they don’t bump into objects upon discovering contraband.
“A dog sniffing for drugs or weapons is led at all times by his police handler,” explained Captain Luís Otávio Poyes, a dog handler and trainer. ”When it locates a bomb, it sits and signals for the police officer, who is outside the area. Afterwards, it leaves the location, still without touching anything. At that point, the police or the bomb squad goes into action.”
Though the first two bomb-sniffing dogs joined BAC in 2007, they’ve seldom been used outside of training. Since bombings are rare in Brazil, the BAC augments its training by exchanging information with other countries, including France’s Recherche Assistance Intervention Dissuasion (RAID), a police special operations unit specializing in counter-terrorism.
“RAID officers came here and evaluated our canines,” Col. Nogueira said. “They said they were ready.”
Police dogs are deployed on a variety of missions
Overall, the BAC has 52 dogs dedicated to public safety missions, including search and rescue, tracking fugitives, and finding cadavers. The Tactical Intervention Unit also has a Canine Center, where the dogs work together with the Special Operations Battalion (BOPE) in hostage rescue situations. Police dogs also work with their handlers to help control crowds, including unruly throngs at stadiums.
“At the World Cup, the Canine Shock Group acted outside the stadiums. We are prepared to serve again in that capacity, if needed, during the Olympic Games. Honestly, we are ready to perform any service within our scope, from assistance in hostage negotiations to detecting bombs and explosives.”
The BAC, which is awaiting the arrival of 30 more dogs that will be trained, also has had canines participate in law enforcement simulations on subways, ships, and in airports.