ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. --
The 28th Security Forces Squadron military working dog handlers conducted joint training with the Rapid City Police Department K-9 Unit at the Rushmore Mall, Rapid City, South Dakota, Sept. 24, 2017.
The Security Forces Members used this opportunity to build relationships with their civilian counterparts and familiarize their K-9s with areas around the city.
“We have memorandums of agreement with Rapid City and Pennington County to provide military working dogs for detection purposes,” said Tech Sgt. Matthew Lee, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the military working dogs section assigned to the 28th SFS. “This came about because the only [civilian K-9 handler] in the state was assigned to the governor’s house. Ellsworth established these agreements with the local agencies so we could augment that resource.”
The goal of the training is two-fold: become familiar with the layout of the buildings to provide a better idea of how to approach and handle a situation, and allow the handlers to gain a perspective from the civilian law enforcement side.
“The main thing we are focusing on is bomb threat scenarios,” said Staff Sgt. Christin Cykman, a military working dog trainer assigned to the 28th SFS. “Anything from unattended bags with wires hanging out to a possible suspicious vehicle in the parking lot; it can venture from one to 1,000 things. It’s important we do this because it gets us out in the community and allows us to prepare for that ‘what if’ scenario.”
While the memorandums on utilization of the MWD’s for specific threats in the city were written up years ago, this is the first time 28th SFS had a chance to work with local law enforcement and their new K-9s.
“This is the first time this is being done,” Cykman explained. “We are hoping to start doing this once a month with different areas throughout the city to better familiarize ourselves with what we will be working with. Places that you might venture through day to day, you might be familiar with in a sense, but it’s a completely different mindset when you’re called there for a response.”
Future training locations include local courthouses, airports, or any high-traffic, at-risk environments.
“This is a stepping stone to more joint training,” Lee said. “The goal is to build that relationship with [local law enforcement]. We don’t know their capability, what level of proficiency they are at, so maybe we can provide our expertise and show them a few tricks of the trade, maybe learning from them too; it’s a two way street.”