Bomb dogs are new­est mem­bers of col­lege po­lice

The Washington Times Daily - - NATION - BY JEN­NIFER MCDER­MOTT

PROV­I­DENCE, R.I. | More col­leges are get­ting bomb-sniff­ing dogs in a time of al­ways-loom­ing se­cu­rity threats, with two in New Eng­land among the lat­est.

Black Labradors named Fi­garo and Bella at­tended the same train­ing class and ar­rived in Oc­to­ber at the Univer­sity of Rhode Is­land and Worces­ter Polytech­nic In­sti­tute in Mas­sachusetts, re­spec­tively.

Many col­leges have used dogs for years to look for drugs. And while some larger schools have had ex­plo­sive-de­tec­tion dogs for a while, there has been an uptick in the past year or so, said David Bous­quet, pres­i­dent-elect of the In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Cam­pus Law En­force­ment Ad­min­is­tra­tors.

“You have to pre­pare for that and say, ‘I’d rather have the pro­tec­tion and not need it, than need it and not have it,”’ he said.

Col­leges are of­ten a com­mu­nity’s hub — the very place bombers seek­ing max­i­mum carnage would strike, author­i­ties say. The open­ness of most cam­puses makes them in­her­ently hard to close off, and some col­leges note their events are increasing in size.

And if a threat or bomb­ing oc­curs, col­lege po­lice don’t want to have to wait, some­times hours, for dogs to ar­rive from other de­part­ments and help do sweeps.

More fed­eral fund­ing is now avail­able for schools to get dogs through the Jus­tice De­part­ment and the De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity, Mr. Bous­quet said, and the law en­force­ment com­mu­nity in gen­eral has adopted a mind­set that vi­o­lence can hap­pen any­where.

The re­cent car-and-knife at­tack at Ohio State, while not a bomb or bomb threat, un­der­scores that re­al­ity.

North Carolina State Univer­sity got two dogs this sum­mer. Yale Univer­sity in Con­necti­cut has had one for a few years now, as have some schools in the Cal­i­for­nia State Univer­sity sys­tem.

Ohio launched a pro­gram in 2014 to place ex­plo­sive-de­tec­tion dogs at pub­lic col­leges. Eight schools re­ceived them, in­clud­ing Ohio State, and the ini­tial cost of about $12,000 per dog was paid by the state, ac­cord­ing to Ohio Home­land Se­cu­rity spokesman Dustyn Fox.

Cam­pus po­lice chiefs say hav­ing a dog in place will help their de­part­ments re­spond quickly — and can im­prove re­la­tions with stu­dents.

“They just feel safe see­ing these dogs and know­ing they’re at work, help­ing to con­trib­ute to the var­i­ous things the po­lice de­part­ment does to keep them safe,” said Anne Glavin, po­lice chief at Cal­i­for­nia State Univer­sity, Northridge.

“And who the heck doesn’t love a dog?” she said. “Well, a cat lover, I guess.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Bella, a Worces­ter Polytech­nic In­sti­tute po­lice de­part­ment ex­plo­sives de­tec­tion dog stands on cam­pus with han­dler of­fi­cer Brian Lavelle in Worces­ter, Mas­sachusetts. There has been an spike in the use of these dogs at col­leges over the past year.

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