8 June 2022

Four-legged federal agents deployed to sniff out nation's weapons

| Claire Fenwicke
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Five canines and their handlers.

Five canines and their handlers will be deployed to Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. Junior and Protective Service Officer Pritchard (centre) will be stationed in the ACT. Names withheld for security purposes. Photo: AFP.

Junior may be young in name, but he and his handler Protective Service Officer Pritchard are more than ready to sniff out crime across the ACT.

They’re one of five Australian Federal Police (AFP) dog/handler duos who recently completed the agency’s explosives detection course in Canberra.

National Canine Operations Centre instructor Glen Kemp said the new handlers had met every challenge of the physically and mentally demanding course.

“[It] teaches the technical elements needed to make a great canine handler, but the participants need to have a good work ethic, along with the passion, patience and dedication to see it through,” he said.

“These handlers had that and then some, and they should be very proud of their achievements so far.”

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During the 13-week course, the dogs and handlers learned how to detect a range of military and commercial-grade explosives, including firearms.

The teams will be posted to Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth to support existing canine crime fighting in each city.

Three new Labrador puppies with handlers.

Three of the eight new Labrador puppies preparing to become federal agents. Photo: AFP.

Eight new Labrador puppies have also been added to the AFP’s canine capabilities through the Australian Border Force (ABF) Detector Dog Breeding Program.

They will begin training with their AFP foster families before completing their formal education. They’ll also visit Canberra frequently for mini exposure and training experiences.

Mr Kemp said he couldn’t wait to prepare the next generation of canine federal agents to go on the beat.

“We’re excited to welcome these new puppies who are settling in well with their foster families before they’re old enough to undertake their training in firearms and explosives or currency and drugs,” he said.

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ABF Tactical Capability Commander Lauren Richardson said the pups were a fine example of the agency’s breeding, training and development programs.

“Our dogs are renowned not only here in Australia, through their deployment to our agency partners such as the AFP, but also around the world,” she said.

“These dogs perform critical roles by executing highly technical work, and we look forward to the continued success we can achieve through collaboration between ABF and AFP.”

`Junior' and Protective Service Officer Pritchard.

Junior and Protective Service Officer Pritchard are ready to sniff out crime in Canberra. Photo: AFP.

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