Law Enforcement Specialties >> Special Units (K9, SWAT, etc.) >> Cell Phone K-9's

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Cell Phone K-9's

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Posted over 5 years ago

 

Recently tasked with looking into the feasibility of using dogs to sniff out cell phones in the CA State Prison System.  We initially looked into cell phone jamming devices, however the devices are prohibited by the FCC.  In addition, housing developments have been constructed so close to the prisons that if you do use the jamming devices they bleed over and cut out cell phones in the communities.  We ran across a vendor in southern CA who claimed to have trained K-9's for this and we had him come up and put on a demonstration.  We hid three cell phones in an open area and three in a 6' X 9" cell.  None of the phones were consealed in a manner which I thought would be hard for the dogs to find.  Anyway, he did not find any of the phones.  I felt it was a bad demonstration as there were alot of handler errors.  I.E  Leaving fans on and failure to watch his dog.  The handler seemd to be doing more seraching then the dog.  In one case the dog started showing interest in a phone that was hidden under a garbage can.  The handler was convinced the phone was in a cabinet next to it and pull the dog off.  I did not want to discount everything based on this one demonstration, so I contacted both Maryland DOC and Florida DOC, both of whom claim to have sucess in the area.  Would like to see if anyone else out there has any information on this.  The one big problem I have, something no-one can address is what makes the scent of a cell phone "Unique" or different from any other piece of electronic equipment.  Inmates have TV's, Radios and other electronic devices in their cells and I don't want the dogs alerting on every piece of electronic equipment.  As it stands I plan on picking up 2 dogs to train just on cell phones and tobacco.  One of the first hurdles I had to overcome was tying to explain to Administration why I needed new dogs.  All of our dogs now are full service dogs cross trained in narcotics.  Using any of them for this would distroy our ability to use the dogs for PC.  Any additional information on this subject will help me alot..........  Thanks in advance.

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Rate This | Posted over 5 years ago

 

Arrange for another more controlled exercise.

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At this point I do not think another demonstration will do me much good.  I had set the last demonstration up more out of curiosity then anything else.  I do not think there will be a problem training the dogs to find the phones.  My biggest concern at this point is that I do not want the dogs alerting on every other piece of electronic equipment.  If I could isolate a specific odor unique to a cell phone then that would be what I would use as a training aide.  I would use other "Common" electronic parts as part of my distraction training.  When I talked to the K-9 Unit Commander at Maryland DOC I asked the same question, however was told the dogs ignore the other electronic equipment and just go after the cell phones.  At this point I will more then likely pick up a couple of Mals and see for myself how this works. 

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Rate This | Posted over 5 years ago

 

Tobacco won't be a particular issue. It's fairly scent specific. The training wouldn't be any different than for drugs/explosives etc. The cell phones are a bit of a different issue. The problem is the circuit boards. While they are certainly detectable, you'll run into scent generalization with radios, calculators etc that also use circuit boards. If you can pin point a scent specific component to the phone, or explain they may well respond to the occasional radio or other electronic component that may help. YOu might try looking at something battery specific. Most cell phones have a different type of battery than you might find with radios/calculators etc. Just a thought.


 


DFrost


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Rate This | Posted over 5 years ago

 

I've never heard of a dog that detects cell phones.  You may want to ask the other DOCs what they train the dogs on?  The most likely is the battery.  You may get some false hits but since you don't need probable cause to search the cell it should not be a problem.  If one of the dogs hits on a visitor you could probably only refuse entry until the issue is resolved. 

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The battery is one of the things we looked into, and that would definitely be something that is not in the other electronic equipment.  One of the things we are finding however is that the gangs are separating the battery, sim cards and having other inmates hold on to these items so they don't lose everything when the phones are found.  This has become a real serious problem throughout the county as the gangs are using the phones to circumvent the institutional monitored phones and using the cell phone to call hits and do their drug business.  We tried to get the Legislature to pass a law similar to Texas making it a felony to bring a cell phone onto prison property.  This being CA. they balked at that idea saying it was overkill.  The jokers in Sacramento do not want to crimilize this for some reason.  My biggegst reason for doing all the research at this point is that I don't want to get the dogs and do all the training unless I have some reasonable expectation of success. 

Th_germanshepard_max50

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Rate This | Posted over 5 years ago

 

I don't know if the sim's card would be scent specific enough to test. Another thought would be the liquid crystals, but that could be found in other electronic gear. I used to be in research (olfactory related with working dogs) maybe if I sat down and thought about a research protocol I could come up with some ideas. I know our prison system, which I trained their drug dogs, had asked me about it. We've been so busy though I've not had an opportunity to really pursue the idea.


 


 


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Rate This | Posted over 5 years ago

 

DFrost.........  Thanks for the reply.  Any help I can get on this would be a big help.  This has be a very big problem that is only going to get worse.  These guys have internet access on the phones and are able to take pictures and send them out.  When they are found with a phone it is handled as an administrative rule violation which hardly carries any weight.  We have been trying to get headquarters to consider the cell phones as escape paraphernalia and re-classify possession as serious so we can at least take time away. 


Training the dogs will not be a problem, however like I said, I want to see if there is something specific on the cell phone odor so the dogs are not hitting on everything electronic. Another thing I wanted to throw by anyone out there is the type of alert's they use.  I have always trained my narcotic detection dogs using agressive alerts.  Mostly because that is how I was trained (Adlerhorst International).  All of the dogs we have now are Mals and they seem to want to scratch.  It just did not seem logical to build the dog up then have him sit when pin pointed an odor going from 100 down to zero.  I ask as the three places I have reserached so far are all using passive alerts. 

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Rate This | Posted over 5 years ago

 

All my Mals are passive response. They are dual purpose so I wanted the bite/scratch on doors etc where a person might be hiding. I've never had a problem with passive response and mals. Personally, I've always preferred the aggressive response. That is strictly personal though, I just like it. I do train though for what is needed. I have a couple of mals that are explosives detectors as well. They are also passive reponse. I'm assuming, since you want to train for cell phones, that these dogs are going to be restricted in use to correction facilities, so probable cause isn't an issue. I'd probably train them on passive, but truthfully, I think it's six of one, etc, etc.


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Yes, the new dogs will be used strickly in a correctional setting.  I will more then likely pick up two dogs and track their success for one year.  At the end of the year headquarters will take a look at the stats and if successful expand the program.  The next hurdle is getting the dogs and not having to pay an arm and a leg for them.  We have always gone through a vendor in the past.  The majority of our dogs were purchased via Adlerhorst International in Riverside, CA.  We have always gotten good dogs from Dave Reaver in the past.  Prices have however gone through the roof and I am looking at alternative avenues at this point.  Since they are only going to be used for detection I am looking at a of Mal rescue here in CA.  I still need dogs with good nerves due to the environment the dogs will be working in.  Takes time for the dogs to get used to all the noise, metal on metal banging of doors etc. 

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Rate This | Posted over 5 years ago

 

Vipre says ...



Yes, the new dogs will be used strickly in a correctional setting.  I will more then likely pick up two dogs and track their success for one year.  At the end of the year headquarters will take a look at the stats and if successful expand the program.  The next hurdle is getting the dogs and not having to pay an arm and a leg for them.  We have always gone through a vendor in the past.  The majority of our dogs were purchased via Adlerhorst International in Riverside, CA.  We have always gotten good dogs from Dave Reaver in the past.  Prices have however gone through the roof and I am looking at alternative avenues at this point.  Since they are only going to be used for detection I am looking at a of Mal rescue here in CA.  I still need dogs with good nerves due to the environment the dogs will be working in.  Takes time for the dogs to get used to all the noise, metal on metal banging of doors etc. 


 


 


 


Don't count out a "floppy eared" dog (lab, golden, pointer etc). You may well be able to find a good one at a rescue or shelter. I have 19 rescues in my 44 dog program. I couldn't have gotten any better dogs regardless of what I paid for them. It's all in the selection regardless of where you get them. If they are only going to be single purpose, give it a try. Save them a few dollars they'll think you are a hero.



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Rate This | Posted over 5 years ago

 

Thanks for all of the advise.  I beleive getting the dogs will not be a problem.  I have been doing alot of research online and there are alot of dogs out there that I belive will meet my needs for this project.  I'll will keep my progress posted.