NYPD Labradors Trained to Sniff Out Hidden Electronics

Highly skilled NYPD Labradors are being utilized to locate hidden electronic devices in police investigations, providing an extra layer of assurance for law enforcement.

In the never-ending battle against crime, the New York Police Department (NYPD) has enlisted the help of some unlikely heroes – Labrador Retrievers. These specially trained canines, including Louis, Qaid, Hugh, and Robbie, possess an extraordinary ability to sniff out electronic devices hidden by criminals. With their keen sense of smell, these dogs have become an invaluable asset to the NYPD, ensuring that no stone is left unturned in the pursuit of justice.

The Power of the Canine Nose

Officer Matthew Gullo, a member of the NYPD’s K9 unit, attests to the unparalleled detection capabilities of these Labrador Retrievers. “You can’t beat the dog’s nose,” he says. These dogs are trained to detect a specific chemical compound found in electronic devices, including memory chips and moisture-resistant coatings. This compound, Triphenylphosphine oxide and Hydroxycyclohexyl phenyl ketone, is present in most electronic devices with storage capability. The dogs can sniff out this common chemical, making them highly effective in locating hidden electronics.

Enhancing Police Investigations

While most electronics recovered during police investigations are found by responding officers or during search warrants, the K9 unit of the NYPD’s Critical Response Command is increasingly being called upon to ensure that no device goes unnoticed. Sergeant Jaime Sitko explains that they act as an “insurance policy” to double-check that nothing has been missed. Their expertise has proven invaluable in recent cases, including the apprehension of a robbery ring that targeted pedestrians for their cell phones. During the investigation, the K9 unit, led by Officer Sitko and K9 Quaid, was called in to search for additional devices. Although no further devices were found, the presence of the K9 unit provided reassurance that no stone was left unturned.

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The Art of the Search

The K9 unit’s search techniques were witnessed during a training session at a police facility in Breezy Point, Queens. Devices, ranging from tiny cell phones to thumb drives, were strategically hidden in various locations. The dogs were then given the command to search, and their incredible sense of smell led them to the hidden devices. Officer Jeffery Wickham, handler of K9 Hugh, explains that each dog has their own style and pace. K9 Hugh, the oldest of the four, takes his time but always delivers. Once a device is detected, the dog sits on its hind legs, signaling its discovery. A treat follows, and the dog is then instructed to point out the device again. This process is repeated, reinforcing the dog’s training and rewarding their success.

Constant Training for Success

The training of these dogs is a continuous process, even when they are off-duty and at home with their handlers. Family members, including children and grandparents, participate in hiding devices, ensuring that the dogs remain sharp and ready for action. Officer Andrew Nader, handler of K9 Robbie, explains that he often hides items during his child’s baseball games, providing opportunities for ongoing training. The dogs are fed piecemeal, one treat at a time, to maintain their motivation and focus.

Making a Difference in Criminal Cases

The success of the NYPD’s K9 unit is evident in the number of devices they have recovered. Over the past five years, these dogs have located and retrieved more than 250 electronic devices, strengthening numerous criminal cases. Their expertise has been particularly crucial in cases involving child pornography, where evidence found by the dogs has played a significant role.

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Conclusion: The NYPD’s Labrador Retrievers have proven themselves to be indispensable members of the force, with their exceptional olfactory abilities and rigorous training. These dogs, once destined to become seeing-eye dogs, have found a new purpose in helping to fight crime. Their unique skills and dedication have not only aided in police investigations but have also provided a sense of security and assurance that no electronic device will go unnoticed. As the K9 unit continues to evolve and refine their techniques, their contributions to the pursuit of justice are bound to become even more significant.