Police dogs are safe

Our federal police officers on four paws

There is of course a dog like Inspector Rex only on television and whose life - which is surprising - has hardly anything to do with the reality of a real "federal police officer on four paws". But that doesn't mean less excitement and variety. Figor has a busy and clearly structured daily routine. In contrast to the stars on the screen, service dogs in the Federal Police have precisely defined areas of activity for which they are specifically trained. Because specialization is an important factor for a high level of commitment. Protection and explosives detection dogs are current companions in daily service; Since March, the Federal Police has also had another valuable resource: the pyrotechnic dog.

As early as 1972, the first four-legged friends were "hired" by the then Federal Border Guard to protect German constitutional organs and ministries and have since proven themselves. In the meantime, the authority can fall back on 43 years of experience when it comes to service dogs. Their use has been modified again and again over the years and adapted to current conditions.

When does a dog become a police dog?

But is every dog ​​equally suitable to become a service dog? Regardless of breed and intended use, the animal must not be older than three years when purchased. Even if the trained eye of the specialist considers a puppy to be suitable due to its pronounced play instinct and its excellent perception, for example, there is another major hurdle to overcome: the health check at the vet. Only when it has been passed, nothing stands in the way of the training. The basic training should now be completed within a year, which takes place under the guidance of the service dog instructor in the federal police headquarters and at the service dog schools of the Federal Police Academy in Bleckede and Neuendettelsau. Figor is a Malinois, a Belgian Shepherd Dog. He completed his training a long time ago and he is now doing his job at the Federal Police Inspectorate at Düsseldorf Airport as a so-called dual dog. This means that it is a protection dog and explosives detection dog in one and, depending on the occasion, is used in the respective specification. An interplay of the areas of responsibility within a shift would therefore be possible.

Business and private inseparable

Figor and his master, service dog handler Carsten Morfeld, are a well-rehearsed and inseparable team. Each service dog handler is assigned a service dog personally and, in principle, only managed by him. Figor lives without exception in the family of the service dog handler. Both go through the training to become a service dog handler or a service dog together. The following applies to the Federal Police: the same duty for everyone! And so not only the service dog has to undergo special training, but also his service dog handler. The most important requirement for the use as a service dog handler, however, is the ability to make friends with the living being "dog" in its special way. However, he must also be able to break away from his four-legged friend - at least on business - after 13 years at the latest. Because our animal companions have also earned their retirement at some point, but usually continue to live with their service dog handler until their death. One thing is certain: the team's commitment depends on how well people and animals harmonize.

Why is the animal so valuable?

Thanks to its fine nose, Figor has become an indispensable tool on behalf of its conspecifics. Within a very short time, he can filter out the decisive factors for our task from around 6000 smells, display them in a targeted manner and thus immediately have further measures required by the police carried out by appropriate decision-makers. In order to guarantee the perfect reliability and the operational readiness of the dog, the training and further education is an important part of the daily work. The team has to complete training twice a month. An operational suitability test is carried out once a year and a full test every three years.

Because of its pronounced perception, its speed, reliability and ability to defend itself, the service dog is a versatile and indispensable "resource" of the federal police. In many cases, the mere presence of the police reduces the willingness to flee and use violence on the part of those who are obliged to use the police. Its preventive character increases our value and enables us to use resources that are freed up elsewhere. In addition to patrol duty, the dog can also be used as an aid to physical violence in accordance with the law on direct coercion (UZwG), provided the conditions are met. These dogs are the best tool for barricades on the occasion of football matches or demonstrations, when searching for fugitive offenders and even for evidence.

The Federal Police currently has around 460 service dogs, around 150 of which are explosives detection dogs. Further explosives detection dogs are planned for the implementation of the random sample-based transfer cargo controls. Here they are to be used in the area of ​​the air cargo halls at airports and form a further component in aviation security.

Since March 2015 - the Stuttgart Directorate had previously dealt with this issue in detail - the Federal Police also have pyrotechnic detection dogs. Their task is to specifically track down dangerous pyrotechnics in the soccer fan travel. In the 2013/2014 football season alone, 72 federal police officers were injured by pyrotechnics in rail-bound football fan travel. The aim is to use this new component to make events safer on the one hand, and to better protect the emergency services on the other. The pyrotechnic sniffer dogs can be used to search people and carry-on baggage, to search on trains and other means of transport, in the train station and in the area of ​​the railway facilities.

Figor will continue to work together with his dog handler Carsten Morfeld as a dual dog at the Düsseldorf airport. Together they are a strong Federal Police team.