Eyewitness News took an exclusive look at a specialized team that's keeping Connecticut's commuters safe.
The State Police Mass Transit Security Team gave Eyewitness News a rare glimpse on what they do each day.
Thousands of Connecticut residents ride the rails to and from New York City daily and every day, the systems are being searched and swept.
"That's the purpose of our unit, to check areas like this that have large amounts of people, where someone may want to do something that isn't good and for us, finding it before it happens," said Trooper Kevin Reed.
The team with K9s checks trash cans, soda machines or any spots where a suspicious item could be placed at Union Station in New Haven
"Sarge will sniff they're bags as he walks down through the aisle and he'll see if there's anything suspicious or detect anything and alert me," Reed said.
The team's approach to security is to be unpredictable on purpose. The Labrador retrievers are chosen for their likeability and the fact they're not intimidating. The dogs also have a strong sense of smell.
"They go through about 15 weeks of intensive training, imprinting stage for explosives, many types and then we are brought in to train with them," Reed said.
Each state trooper and canine companion have a mission to prevent something bad from happening. And they count on all of us to help by adopting the philosophy of "if you see something, say something."
"We're more pro-active now, not re-active," Reed said.
Trooper Matthew Raymond agreed with his fellow team member.
"The time lapse between when it's found and first located, it's drastically been cut because we are in the areas," Raymond said.
The State Police Mass Transit Security Team also helps when at the bus terminal in Bridgeport where they will search the bus before people board for anything suspicious.
The team did a sweep of the cars on ferries bound for Port Jefferson in Long Island.
K-9 training can cost tens of thousands of dollars. The team can also detect potentially explosive radiation.
Handlers explained signs from dogs.
"They're on the food-reward system, so we put explosives out everyday and when they find the explosives they'll alert by sitting and we'll feed them," said Trooper P.J. Conway.
While doing a sweep of the train station in Bridgeport, the dog Viking sensed something when sniffing a backpack on the platform. It ends up being a false alarm, but the feeling is, "better safe than sorry."
"I get a sense of responsibility not just for my friends and family that ride the train, for everyone that's on there," Reed said. "It's my job."
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Wednesday, July 23 2014 12:43 PM EDT2014-07-23 16:43:16 GMT
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