Military Working Dog Teams Practice Airport Security at Richmond International

FORT LEE, Va. (April 8, 2010) – Soldiers and military working dogs from Fort Lee’s 217th Military Police Detachment and Joint Base Langley-Eustis’ 221st MP Detachment recently teamed up for the first of what could be monthly training events at Richmond International Airport.

Six Fort Lee dog teams and three additional trainers, along with three dog teams from JBLE, used the airport’s still unopened international terminal March 30 to expose the dogs to unfamiliar surroundings. The exercise also provided the handlers another opportunity to learn to spot uncharacteristic behavior in their four-legged detectives.

“This is an excellent training opportunity for the dogs to get exposure to different types of areas and distractions, as well as the handler being able to see how their dogs react,” said. Staff Sgt. Nathan Gibson, 217th MP Det. plans and training noncommissioned officer.

Sgt. 1st Class Robert MacLean, 217th kennel master, and Gibson placed explosive training aides in non-visible areas of one concourse while Staff Sgt. Duan Alveris, senior patrol explosive dog handler, placed narcotic training aides in an adjacent still-under-construction concourse.

Spc. Patrick Robinson, a 217th MP Det. patrol narcotic detection dog handler, and his German shepherd Kondi were the first to enter the sparsely lit areas. Robinson released the dog from her restraint and the two began their search. Within minutes, the handler and dog had located all three substances bringing them one step closer to certification.

“We have four teams preparing for certification,” Gibson said.

In addition to searching the areas throughout the terminal, the explosive dogs were taken aboard a mid-size commuter jet to search for the explosive training aides.

Inside the aircraft, the handlers guided their dogs from seat to seat looking for the hidden package. Each of the four specially trained dogs were able to locate aides hidden in the far back of the plane.

Gibson said the event was a successful training mission.

“It went really well for the MWD teams,” he said. “All participants reacted just as they should to the different areas. It was a new environment with new smells, and it was a night mission which is somewhat irregular training for the teams.”

Quentin Price, chief of the Richmond International Airport Police Department, said his organization is “honored and privileged” to be a partner with the 217th MP Det. and the military working dog team at Fort Lee.

“Our unique affiliation is beneficial from several perspectives,” he said, “to include enhanced safety and security, the ability of K9 teams to train in a major transportation environment, and the reinforced working relationship between the agencies.“