GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. --
K-9 handlers across the state of North Dakota came together at Grand Forks Air Force Base where the 319th Security Forces Squadron held the first statewide military working dog joint training session on Oct. 21, 2021.
The training day was a time for the 319 SFS and local police units to work together, combine their knowledge and practice specialized working dog techniques.
“The goal of the training day was to build relationships with K-9 units and officers across the state and to learn different ways each unit interacts with the K-9s,” said 319th Security Forces Squadron Staff Sgt. Sean King, MWD trainer. “It’s always a great opportunity to work with local law enforcement and we get to implement the things we learn in our own unit.”
Over six law enforcement units participated in the training day, sending their dogs through several stations and exercises in finding narcotics and explosives in vehicles, luggage and buildings.
The Fargo Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit rigged a warehouse with fake booby-traps and bombs to provide support for the training and the Fargo FBI provided a specialty explosives training course.
“It’s cool to get to see a lot of different agencies come together because it’s not common,” said Jennifer Gustafson, an officer with the Fargo Police Department, who brought her dog Toby with her. “Today’s training was a great opportunity for me to try and teach Toby new tools of the trade like finding buried bombs which isn’t common for city PDs to know.”
There was also a section taught by the North Dakota Highway State Patrol man-trailing K-9 division to show what their bloodhounds can do when it comes to detecting missing or wanted individuals.
“We can always learn from other dogs and dog handlers, and constructive criticism is key,” said Kristian Janhelgoe, K-9 trooper with the North state Highway Patrol. “We’re always learning.”
The day was full of different perspectives on how to train and everyone that came was able to walk away with something new to pass on to their units.
“It’s a good thing to have eyes on the other teams and everyone can give a little bit of advice here and there,” said Janhelgoe.
Many of the K-9’s present had a specialty and their handlers were able to share their knowledge by offering crash courses on their area of expertise.
Grand Forks AFB’s K-9 unit offered a tour of their military working dog facility with specific demonstrations on how they stay prepared to defend the base daily, protect the mission and remain ready for the future.
When the base and the community come together to work as a whole, assuring and defending the security of not only Grand Forks but the whole state, it makes all that are involved stronger.
Participants said this partnership between the base and local law enforcement ensures all parties emerge with enhanced capabilities; boosting security at Grand Forks AFB and the entire state of North Dakota.