GOODYEAR, AZ - In an effort to keep all of us safe, a half dozen law enforcement agencies underwent special training to help K-9 teams better detect explosives.
It's the first time this type of training has taken place in Arizona. The Department of Homeland Security provided the training as part of its Regional Explosives Detection Dog Initiative, also known as REDDI. Goodyear Police hosted the two-day training at Goodyear Ballpark.
"Bomb dogs are gonna kind of be the way of the future," said Goodyear Police Officer Jared Jordan, who is a K-9 handler. "They're getting involved a lot more and it's interesting to see all the actual research that's going into them now."
Jordan's dog, “Basco,” a 4-year-old Belgian Malinois, underwent the training on Thursday. ABC15 watched as Basco — and other dogs — searched for an explosive scent planted on just one of five vehicles. If done correctly, the dog would passively alert the handler when it found the scent, by sitting and acting calm.
"Obviously if a dog has an aggressive alert, they scratch, they bite at it, they're going to find one bomb in their career and they're going to be done," Jordan said.
Officials from the Department of Homeland Security provided the departments with tips picked up from training in other parts of the country. They are helping agencies better hone their processes with the hope of improving the dogs' ability to sniff out trouble.
"They are our only explosive detection device that we have that we can put in that 'soft target' environment," said Don Roberts, the detection K-9 program manager for the Department of Homeland Security's Science & Technology Directorate.
Roberts told ABC15 the goal is to get the dog to a point where they are able to recognize the actual explosive, not the material it's concealed in.
"That's why (we put together a team of) explosive chemists, along with K-9 subject matter experts," Roberts said. "To try and find what's the best pathway to train them more effectively and efficiently."
As for Basco, he is the only explosive detection dog within the Goodyear Police Department. You will see him at Goodyear Ballpark looking for potential problems during spring training, when baseball returns in February.