K-9s that work with the Metro Transit Police Department will spend nearly a decade sniffing their way around trains, buses and boarding areas. So it only makes sense that their training would also take place in such an environment.
And now it is.
This spring, the department introduced an in-house, three-month curriculum that puts the K-9s and their partner officers through the paces at places like the East Metro Garage and the Blue Line's Operations & Maintenance Facility. Until this year, MTPD’s K-9s were trained at off-site academies with other police departments.
Lt. Richard Raymond, who heads the K-9 unit, said the early exposure to the sights, sounds and smells of transit not only helps the K-9s become more familiar with transit but with their extended family at Metro Transit.
"It gives the dogs the opportunity to see Metro Transit employees and to let employees see firsthand how they’re being trained,’’ Raymond said.
Among those who observed this spring's training is East Metro Service Garage Supervisor Romulus `Romy’ Jurcoi, who said: "It is a nice feeling to see the partnership between the officer and the K-9 and to know that our buses and our customers are safe."
The new K-9s, all Labradors, graduated earlier this year and will now work up until they're about 9 years old. During their careers, the K-9s will help search for explosives and weapons and help strengthen the department's presence on transit. "It’s an additional resource to put high visibility out on the rails and facilities,’’ Raymond said.
The eight current K-9 teams are:
• Officer Pete Eshenaur/Riddick
• Officer Kevin McCabe/Sky
• Officer Leonard Mitchell/Kaide
• Officer Bev Rodriguez/Bristol
• Officer Timbutu Wilkerson/Luna
• Officer Larry Wright/Rocky
• Officer Peter Yang/Brady
• Officer Txu Yang/Bosco