Auxiliary police officers of a different breed ready to sniff out explosives

Amir Hussain
Senior Reporter
Certis Cisco Auxiliary police officers with their canine colleagues. From left: Corporal Lee Si Xian and Bonzo, corporal Chang Li Ting and Naomi, corporal Kelvin Wong Jia Wei and Peppe, corporal Lee Sin Nie and Aspa, and sergeant Yogeswaran Subramaniam and Turbo. (Photo: Amir Hussain/Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — Members of the public attending large-scale events such as concerts may soon see auxiliary police officers of a different breed alongside the men and women in blue - English Springer Spaniels and Labrador Retrievers.

But these dogs don’t just look adorable. The Certis Cisco auxiliary police K-9 unit explosive detection dogs (EDD) are more accurate at detecting explosive substances than machines, and are also more agile than man or machine.

And they’re even trained to detect home-made explosives.

On Wednesday (16 October), five of the Cisco K-9 dogs certified by the Singapore Police Force over a stringent two-day assessment received their working harnesses from Certis’ Singapore chief executive Ronald Poon at the Certis Cisco Centre in Jalan Afifi.

The auxiliary police sniffer dogs are two Labrador Retrievers from the Netherlands, Naomi and Aspa, which are both two-year-old females, and three English Springer Spaniels - Bonzo, a one-year-old male from the UK, Peppe, a two-year-old female also from the UK, and Turbo, a two-year-old male from the Netherlands.

Meanwhile, their handlers were presented with their proficiency badges.

Certis said the K-9 unit will “complement and augment security operations by pre-empting, detecting and deterring threats at deployment sites with high visitor volume such as seaports, transport hubs and major event venues”.

Certis Cisco’s assistant superintendent Matthew Ng, the K-9 unit commander, said, “Certis K-9’s unique detection capabilities complement our total range of security solutions. For example, in tandem with their Certis K-9 colleagues, auxiliary police officers can now carry out security sweeps faster and with greater accuracy compared to manual and even machine checks.”

A Certis Cisco K-9 unit English Springer Spaniel gets a belly rub. (Photo: Amir Hussain/Yahoo News Singapore)

Unit planning to expand

The Certis Cisco K-9 unit was launched in January with 10 dogs in total, although not all of them are sniffer dogs.

The K-9 dogs are trained in as little as three to four months, depending on their calibre, and will serve for about eight years.

At retirement, they will be put up for adoption, similar to the Singapore Police Force’s K-9 dogs.

There are plans to expand the unit, said commander Ng, and Certis is looking at sending up to four more of its furry colleagues for EDD certification in April next year.

“We are also actively exploring with the police on the possibility of deploying security dogs or even narcotics dogs to achieve a full suite of solutions for our clients,” said Ng.

“Having police accreditation means that we are trained to the same standard as our national police,” he added.

The Certis K-9 unit will officially move from Seletar to a new facility with 13 kennels in Toh Tuck next month. Certis will share more details about the facility then.

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