Dogs in detection | Daily News

Dogs in detection

How police dogs assist cops to apprehend criminals, detect drugs and explosives, and more

Crime becomes more complicated and sophisticated with the advent of technology. As economic hardships rise, some attempt to earn a quick buck through any means. As drugs, rape and organised crime become a regular feature in the country, a special investigative team within the police helps bring these criminals under the law: they are none other than the Police Kennels.

The loyal police dogs of the Kennels use their instincts and sense of smell to sniff out criminals, drugs and explosives and their training ensures that they almost always get their target. Even among a crowd of a thousand, the dogs can sniff out the suspect. Further, they are obedient and follow orders to the letter. This is the story of four such extraordinary police dogs.

They are none other than Ricky, Gail, Virath and Dulcy – police dogs attached to the Nikaweratiya Police division. Housed at the Ambanpola Police Station official kennel unit, they help solve crime in such instances as apprehension of criminals, drug raids, and detection of explosives. After a month-long training at the Kandy Kennel Division, they were deployed on official missions and thus far have made a huge difference in the police division’s ability to solve crimes such as the drug racket. The police have also been able to apprehend many criminals using the skills of the police dogs.

“They are given good training and thereafter, tested under the supervision of our chief director,” said Nikaweratiya Police Kennels OIC, Police Sergeant Abeysinghe. “The dogs which prove competent are chosen for the job. They are tested on their responsiveness to follow orders. We gain immense assistance from them when apprehending criminals. They are also very protective of their own security and that of their handler. There are 10 police divisions in Nikaweratiya. We use all four dogs to conduct raids in all these divisions. I would like to especially mention that more than the raids, it is crime prevention that happens here. I say this because at times we undertake raids in places that we suspect crimes will occur. And when we use official dogs to sniff around a particular area, the criminals get frightened and leave the area. Thus, we conduct inspections around the area and conduct raids. One of the main roles of the police dogs is to assist in collecting information on criminals and their places of operation.”

The dogs are trained from an early age to detect criminals and places of criminal activity. They have also been trained to pursue criminals who try to escape the police during a raid. RIcky is especially talented in stopping suspects who flee police prosecution.

Ricky

Ricky, born on August 2, 2010, is an eight-year-old female dog with highly developed senses to detect suspects and apprehend criminals. Police Sergeant Ekanayake has been her handler from the time she was a puppy. He speaks of Ricky’s talents thus:

“I have been in charge of her since she started training as a police dog when she was a puppy. So I have been her handler for the last eight years. We came to work at the Nikaweratiya Police division in 2016. Since then, Ricky has worked hard to apprehend many suspects. She is an animal who has yielded great results with her training. So we only use her for criminal investigations. We have taken her to many crime scenes and as soon as we place the equipment on her body, she knows that we are going on duty to inspect a particular scene. Thus far, Ricky has been used to successfully solve around 43 crimes.”

“In 2016, there were 13 investigations, in 2017, 17 investigations, and this year, we solved 12 cases. There are some special instances among these investigations. This year, there was a murder in Walathwewa, Ambanpola. It was Ricky who helped us apprehend the suspect in this case. We had Ricky sniff a knife which was the murder weapon. Having sniffed it, Ricky traced her way to a house located a few metres from the house where the murder took place. She stopped near a person living in that house. Similarly, we repeated the exercise with Ricky on two more occasions. On both occasions, Ricky stopped before the same individual. When we arrested him and brought him in for questioning, he admitted to have committed the murder.”

In addition to such crimes, Ricky has also helped solve cases of house-breaking and theft. There was once a report of a house being broken into in Mahawa. Several valuables had been stolen. We used Ricky to apprehend the criminal. Similarly, Ricky has also solved four cases of house-breaking in Kobeigane, one in Meegalewa, and others in the Kotawehera and Polpithigama police divisions.”

Gail

Police dog Gail specialises in drug raids. Gail born on June 21, 2012, is another female dog attached to the Police Kennels in Nikaweratiya. A black dog, Gail is smaller than the rest and is much more composed and calmer in nature. Under the care of her handler, Police Constable Kumara, it has just been a year since Gail came to the Ambanpola Police Kennels. During that time, she has assisted in many drug detections. She excels in detecting drugs in any place she goes to.

Speaking of her talents, Constable Kumara said: “Gail is six years old now. She is the most innocent of the four dogs here. She was brought to Ambanpola in 2017. Since then, she has assisted in around 80 drug raids. She has the special skill to detect drugs. Be it cannabis, heroin, thul, tobacco or madana modaka, Gail can detect them all. Using her skills, police officers have been able to arrest a large number of suspects in possession of drugs. Some have been remanded, whilst others have been sent for drug rehabilitation. The assistance given by Gail to apprehend drug dealers in railway stations is immense. At times, we take Gail to train stations − Galgamuwa, Ambanpola and Mahawa − and inspect the carriages and the surrounding areas. We use Gail to sniff the bags of commuters. We have been able to detect drugs during such operations. There are instances where certain commuters try to escape having thrown away their bags.”

“I was in charge of a male dog called Deol before this. He specialised in detecting explosives. I was put in charge of Gail after Deol died. Gail has been responsible for many successful drug detections in Mahawa, Ambanpola, Polpithigama, Nikaweratiya, Pansiyagama and Rasnayakapura,” Constable Kumara said.

Virath and Dulcy

Virath and Dulcy specialise in the detection of explosives. These two, under the care of Police Constable Mahesh and Police Constable Sumith, conduct many raids to detect dangerous explosives. Born on April 27, 2014, Virath is the only male dog in the team. Being just over four years old, Virath is used to inspect events where the President or Prime Minister is scheduled to attend. Dulcy, born on June 13, 2009, is the only female dog used to detect explosives.

At present, both these dogs are also used to inspect vehicles at police barricades.

To control these dogs, the handler must possess special skills. Once the handler is able to get the dogs to obey his orders, it becomes easy for him to get them to successfully complete the mission. From the day the dogs start training to the day they are retired, they are handled by one handler, and thus the relationship between dog and handler is a strong and special one. Their bond is even stronger than one between a pet dog and the owner. They would never disobey or go beyond the orders given by their handler. Thus, all responsibility with regard to the well-being of the dog falls upon his or her handler. He undertakes the bathing, feeding, medical treatment and all other needs of the dog. On their off days, the handler also undertakes training as well as engaging in play with the dog. As the dogs are very active, they enjoy such activities apart from work.

Further, all dogs have to follow a strict timetable. They start their day at 7am with their morning meal which consists of bread and milk. They engage in training exercises thereafter and once that is done, they are given a break with a meal made of one kilo of beef and rice. The dogs are well behaved and even during meal times, they would not grab another’s food or fight for more food. On the days where there are no operations to conduct, the dogs engage in training exercises to fine-tune their skills. Further, every month, they are subjected to a veterinary examination to ensure they are in peak health.


 

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