Police dogs and armed officers yesterday stormed a building in search of a ‘suspect’ brandishing a knife – as part of a training exercise preparing for a ‘worst case scenario’.
The Gibraltar Defence Police incorporated the training of its Dog Section with its firearm squad as part of a training exercise to defuse a potential weapons threat.
This is the first time that such an exercise has ever been attempted in Gibraltar, GDP Chief Superintendent Rob Allen said.
Weapons-trained officers enacted two scenarios with their canine counterparts to make best use of their respective specialist capabilities.
The brief for the first scenario involved locating an injured person with the possibility that the suspect was still at large.
After scoping out the premises to check for potential threats, police dog Tyson located a ‘victim’ then barked to alert his handler.
A suspect armed with a knife and still in the building was the subject of the second scenario. Police dog Nemo, a 2-year old Belgian Shepherd, was called upon to take down the ‘suspect’ by sinking his teeth into the man’s arm.
Nemo – who is top of his class – then immediately released the suspect when given the command by his handler and officers were able to swoop in and secure the scene.
GoPro cameras were strapped to the dogs to enable officers to scrutinise their performances.
Although the dogs can inflict serious and life changing injuries they provide a less lethal option for officers looking to detain a suspect.
The dogs are also trained to switch between seeking out assailants and victims. If the dog finds an injured person he will instead sit and bark to alert his handler.
Ch Supt Allen said: “The GDP is a force of specialists; we deliver niche capabilities for the force.”
And yesterday’s training exercise was an example of just that, namely incorporating the Dog Section with the Firearms training to defuse potential firearms or weapons threats.
“This is really quite innovative and it’s the first time it’s been done in Gibraltar,” Ch Supt Allen said.
“The idea is that each specialism trains in their own right; the firearms training is a really big ask, the firearms instructors are trained to a UK standard which is absolutely world-beating and world class. They bring that training here and firearms instructors deliver locally that syllabus that is delivered in the UK.”
“When you then look at the dog officers, exactly the same, we’ve got police dogs a police dog instructor who’s accredited in the UK and he then delivers locally and brings those dogs and the handlers up to the same standard you expect to see elsewhere,” Ch Supt explained.
To make best use of these two capabilities in situations where officers are forced to deploy firearms but need to mitigate the risk to both the public and the officers themselves, they have been dovetailed together.
“I think it is quite impressive what you can see in the camera strapped to the back of the dog is really impressive and that gives us situational awareness and some intelligence to the officers so they know exactly what they are going in to and they can appropriately deal with it,” Ch Supt Allen said.
The GDP has been in a transitional phase for a number of years now from an organisation that was largely seen as a guarding force to a very high end niche police force and delivers very specific capabilities.
“Is there a need for our work? Absolutely,” Ch Supt Allen said.
“You know what the world situation is looking like and we would be naïve if we weren’t preparing for the worst case scenario. That’s what we do and we do it day in day out,” he added.
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