Dubai Police Security Inspection Department has trained K9 dogs to participate in helicopter airdrops when necessary. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Police and K9 experts who will be attending the World Police Summit from March 7 to 9 have emphasised the importance of sharing knowledge and exchanging experiences in a collaborative environment to tackle the K9 industry’s challenges, explore opportunities and ultimately unify efforts to combat transnational organised crime.

K9 for safer communities

The director of the K9 security unit in Dubai Police, Major Salah Al-Mazroui, emphasised that the first edition of the World Police Summit provides an opportunity for them to showcase their successful experience in utilising the senses of police dogs to detect individuals with infectious diseases or chronic diseases. This experience garnered significant interest from the French police.

Major Salah Al-Mazroui

“We have established a partnership with the French police to conduct a joint study, and a delegation from the K9 security unit has already travelled to France to participate in the implementation phase, and we have already achieved some notable results in this regard,” Al-Mazroui said.

He said Dubai Police has an agreement with DOG DETECTION company to take advantage of their high training capabilities and experiences in the field and to learn about their best practices. He stressed that international knowledge sharing contributes to the development of police and security methods and techniques, which is what the World Police Summit and similar global platforms strive to achieve.

Unique opportunity

Al-Mazroui emphasised that the summit is a unique opportunity for security personnel to examine ways to address the challenges posed by weather conditions in the UAE and for the other participating countries facing similar weather conditions. He added that during the hot summer months, the dogs’ health and performance are significantly impacted by the high temperatures, and they can quickly become exhausted.

“Related solutions are constantly considered to ensure a moderate temperature environment suitable for police dogs to perform their duties effectively. Experts from around the world will be consulted during the World Police Summit to search for ways to improve the dogs’ working environment and to adopt the best practices for their care and treatment. Additionally, new standards will be set for choosing police dogs and ways to dispatch them across residential and hot spots,” he said.

The upcoming World Police Summit will provide insights into the best training techniques and equipment for police dogs and the best security equipment used by dogs and their global trainers. Image Credit: Supplied

Al-Mazroui confirmed that the World Police Summit would also provide insights into the best training techniques and equipment for police dogs and the best security equipment used by dogs and their global trainers.

K9 challenges

Janet Crespo Cajigas, a Chemistry PhD Candidate at the Florida International University, shared her thoughts on the importance of attending the World Police Summit to seek solutions and methods that improve canine detection proficiency. In her opinion, one of the limiting factors is the communication of research to the end-user in a way that can be readily applied. She emphasised the importance of bridging knowledge gaps between end-users and researchers to ensure that scientists focus on real problems facing canine units. By doing so, organisations can better address detection challenges and improve their overall effectiveness in the field.

Additionally, Dr Marti Becker, an expert in the health and well-being of police dogs, emphasised that today’s world requires local and regional police organisations to maintain community safety by ensuring security from criminals, terrorists and drug traffickers, especially as we live in a globalised and technologically advanced era where there are limited opportunities for sustainable livelihoods in many parts of the world.

Dr Marti Becker

“With the rise in security threats, we need to enhance security more extensively and cost-effectively. Thus, we need to rely on a resource that can quickly respond to the call of duty in all circumstances and with the lowest cost. One such resource that never calls in sick or doesn’t respond to the call of duty is police and military working dogs. For the price of a bowl of food and a Kong toy, they will risk their lives to protect those of their handlers and us,” Dr Becker said.

The expert explained that dogs possess not only strong senses that allow them to detect explosions and flammable and prohibited substances, fruits and vegetables but “they can literally become “K911” when called upon for action. Just like with fellow officers, they will put their lives on the line for their human partners.”

K9’s mental well-being

Dr Becker further highlighted the constructive impacts of positive reinforcement when training K9 dogs. “In the past, police dog trainers relied on a method known as “negative reinforcement training”. The dog was punished and reprimanded for exhibiting incorrect behaviour. However, today the most effective method for training dogs is the positive reinforcement approach, which relies on rewarding the dog for showing correct behaviour and not punishing it if it makes a mistake,” he said.

Dr Becker said such an approach helps to maintain the dog’s mental well-being and is more effective in training. Hence, it is also essential to focus on the mental well-being of working dogs, just as we do on their physical well-being. We are responsible for implementing procedures and measures to eliminate or reduce sources of fear, anxiety, and stress to ensure this. “And so positive reinforcement is the way to go.”

Graeme Jones, a retired UK police officer and expert in police dogs training, emphasised that exchanging knowledge and practices between law enforcement agencies worldwide have become a vital and pressing matter, as is evident at the World Police Summit.

“This is in order to develop the knowledge, scientific and technical capabilities of those working in this field, resulting in safer communities,” he said.

Graeme Jones

Jones added that despite the current economic conditions that have imposed constraints on K9 unit budgets, it is essential to invest in developing the skills of those working in this field and in modern technology, which will increase the capability and efficiency of these units in supporting the police’s goals of crime prevention and enhancing the safety of communities.

Drawing on his 30+ years of experience in training police dogs in various specialities, including bomb detection, counterterrorism, and protection of VIPs and politicians, Jones emphasised that K9 units must focus on modern technology in developing operations and invest in and utilise it in fulfilling their duties, and collaborate with relevant agencies to provide the best policing services to the community.

“The emergence of new technology should be seen by K9 as an opportunity for collaboration where possible and to develop new skills. Closer working with all branches can only improve service delivery and public confidence,” he concluded.

Two specialties at Dubai Police

The Director of Dubai Police’s K9 Unit said they have already introduced two specialities in recruiting K9 canines in the field of policing: the ability to find bodies underwater and to handle helicopter drop-offs.

Dubai Police’s K9s are trained to sniff out explosives, perform precautionary inspections at airports and seaports, detect hidden drugs and locate missing people under the rubble during disasters or earthquakes. Image Credit: Supplied

Al-Mazroui clarified that the Dubai Police has always been very keen on developing police work by using the latest techniques and providing advanced training programmes in the field of crime prevention. “Our unit is capable of using K9 to search for missing people underwater, exhume drowned bodies,  thus making it easier for security officers to find bodies, as well as facilitating the identification process”, he said.

Al-Mazroui explained that the K9 unit at Dubai Police Security Inspection Department has trained canines to participate in helicopter airdrops when necessary. In addition, Dubai Police’s K9s are trained to sniff out explosives, perform precautionary inspections at airports and seaports, detect hidden drugs and locate missing people under the rubble during disasters or earthquakes.

World Police Summit at a Glance

The World Police Summit is a major international event that brings together leaders and experts from the law enforcement and security community. This year’s edition to be held at Dubai World Trade Centre between March 7 and 9, will feature more than 150 targeted sessions that advance policing techniques to serve communities in today’s world, focusing on a number of main themes including:

• Crime Prevention and Cybercrime

• Police Innovation

• Transport Safety

• Police Resilience

• Forensic Science