By Kerstin Lopez
In an effort to combine training techniques and tactics, the 148th Military Police Detachment military working dog unit hosted a joint training exercise with nearly 40 K-9 units Dec. 13-14.
The event is designed to organize joint working dog training between military and civilian police K-9 agencies and to expose the teams to various training styles used around the country, said Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Macagg, 148th MP, 759th MP Battalion, military working dog kennel master.
“These events are helpful for networking and exposing dogs and handlers to different areas. When teams are able to share their experiences and knowledge with others, it benefits every working dog group in attendance,” Macagg said.
The two-day exercise took place at Range 150, which houses a large military operations in urban terrain training site with several multistory furnished buildings, underground tunnels, staged vehicles, roadways and open areas. The K-9 teams participated in explosive detection, narcotics detection, building searches, scouting, open area, barricaded suspect, SWAT integration and scenario lanes.
Macagg said the training event incorporated patrol and detection lanes. The detection lanes consisted of narcotic and explosives focusing on several scenarios, while patrol lanes enabled the K-9 teams to search buildings for subjects.
With a month on the job as a new dog handler, Tracey Ramsey, a Colorado Department of Corrections officer, said the joint training was “unbelievable.” Being a K-9 handler is a sought out career among law enforcement, both military and civilian, and chances to train with other working dog teams is a reward, he said.
“It’s a dream come true job … you couldn’t ask for a better career,” Ramsey said. “And what we are learning here, we can take it back and incorporate into what we do.”
Sgt. Jeffrey Pearlstein, 148th MP military working dog handler, said joint training is valuable and benefits all who participate.
“It’s awesome getting all these agencies out here and learning from each other, maybe they know something I don’t know (and) just going back and forth on knowledge,” Pearlstein said.
William Swan has been with the Denver Sheriff’s Department for 17 years, but recently became a dog handler. His interest in the police dogs and how they work was the catalyst for the career change and during the past nine months, Swan and his K-9 teammate, Rex, have been training and working together.
“The new experiences and the different ideas that we’re exposed to really helps the dog and the handler learn so much,” he said.
“The best part of the training is the unique environments that we get to expose the dog to that we normally don’t get to — like the roadway searches, the heavy smoke and the loud noises,” Swan said. “It’s a good way to test your dog to see what their limits are.”
“We will continue to host these events with a goal of having one per quarter as we have seen a tangible benefit to our Soldiers and are always looking for ways to integrate with the surrounding community police department,” said Capt. James Bloom, 148th MP commander.