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First-ever canine unit skills enhancement program held in Canberra

The AFP uses canines to detect drugs, firearms, cash, explosives, corpses and blood, and digital technology such as USBs and SIM cards.

The AFP hosted 30 dogs and more than 60 people in Canberra this week in the first-ever Australia and New Zealand Police Canine Skills Enhancement Program (ANZCSEP). 

The five-day program – including members from Australian state and territory police, and international partners from New Zealand, Türkiye, and the United Kingdom – was an opportunity to improve skills and share information on best practice in the field.

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Image: ANZPSCEP Scenario Training (Source: AFP)

AFP Assistant Commissioner Alison Wegg said investing in canines and their handlers was crucial for law enforcement agencies to stay a step ahead of criminals.

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“The AFP is proud to have hosted this event and strengthen relationships with our policing partners to develop effective and efficient canine capabilities,” Assistant Commissioner Wegg said.

“Dogs are an invaluable part of a variety of law enforcement activities, and some of our success would not be possible without them.

“They have a smell processing capacity 40 times stronger than humans and when conducting detection work, can sniff between five to 10 times a second.”

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Image: ANZPSCEP Scenario Training (Source: AFP)

Senior Sergeant Ryan Johnson, Operations Manager of South Australia’s Police Dog Operations Unit, believed the inaugural program offered an important opportunity for police to develop leading edge capabilities in this space.

“The AFP have done an amazing job in bringing Australian and New Zealand policing jurisdictions together so that we can all display, develop and enhance operational skills in our animals and handlers,” Senior-Sgt Johnson said.

“These types of skills enhancement programs often form the building blocks for better policing practices, spanning multiple countries, so that we can better assist and protect our communities.”

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Image: ANZPSCEP Scenario Training (Source: AFP)

A feature of the week was scenario training exercises held at Canberra landmarks.

One scenario involved responding to an armed attacker at Telstra Tower, where general purpose and explosive dogs worked together with AFP tactical response operators and bomb response technicians.

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The scenario highlighted the use of various police dogs as an effective tool for locating and apprehending offenders, while also providing an added level of safety for members.

The AFP uses canines to detect drugs, firearms, cash, explosives, corpses and blood, and digital technology such as USBs and SIM cards.

They are deployed all across Australia, and are often called upon to support our state and territory policing partners in their investigations.

Dogs working with the AFP start their training from 10 weeks of age and on average, will have a working life of seven to nine years.

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