ATF trains local police dogs to detect explosives used in Brussels and Paris

Her sense of smell is at least 10 thousand times as strong as yours. What the ATF is training Legacy to detect with her sense of smell could potentially save your life.

John Ryan, Chief of the ATF’s Canine Division says, “We train them on whatever the latest bombs the bad guys are using.”

Inside the bombs that injured and killed so many in Paris and Brussels, investigators say, were homemade explosives called TAPT. Now the ATF is teaching local bomb sniffing police dogs to detect it and gave 7News an exclusive look at the training and testing.

Daniel J. Kumor is the ATF’s Special Agent in Charge of the Boston Office. He says, “Having this event gives us the opportunity to test the effectiveness and capability of our local explosives detection k-9 teams.”

Finding explosive devices isn’t their only job. Trainers say with their heightened sense of smell these dogs can find suspected bomb makers in a crowd. John Ryan says, “Not only could they find it in a package but they could alert on whoever made the explosive. We can use these dogs off leash in some circumstances to crowd search and to alert if somebody has explosive residue on their hands”

It’s all part of the ATF’s National Odor Recognition Testing. While we can’t tell you the specific kinds of chemicals the dogs are being tested with, we can show you how they’re being tested. Inside each can is a smaller can and inside that can is a canister with trace amounts of explosives

John Ryan adds, “They’re using a very small amount of what the terrorists and bad guys are using when they construct these explosive devices.”

Kerry Halligan is Connecticut State trooper. She says, “Where something might seem a little off to us smells overwhelming to them. There’s no way we as humans could find these things without the help of the dogs.”

After a few hours of practice, an ATF chemist puts the dogs to the test. The lead trainer for the ATF says, “We test the dogs on 10 basic explosives that are found in IED’s throughout the world.”

At just 17 months old, Legacy is the youngest in the group. Her handler Trooper Kerry Halligan says she passed the test on her first try. “(She) was she able to detect all of the explosives she did.” Halligan adds, “She passed with 100 so we’re very pleased with that.

The ATF says it trained more than 90 teams from New England. The Federal Agency makes this annual certification testing available to all local law enforcement in the U.S.

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