When it comes to investigations and police work, dogs serve an important role.
They're part of a K9 team and can do anything from track to building searches to sniffing for explosives.
Channel 3 took an exclusive look at the certification process for the dogs at a training facility in Connecticut.
Falco was one of the dogs undergoing the training. He's part of a team from the Fox Chapel Police Department in Pittsburgh.
He was in Connecticut this week for the annual North American Police Work Dog Association K9 Nationals.
This year's workshop was held in a training facility near the Windsor Locks-Suffield line.
“Our first workshop was in 1978 and we’ve had a workshop every year since that time," said Bill Faus, NAPWDA. "Workshops are all over the country.”
Faus is one of the founding fathers of the organization.
Its mission is to better K9 teams through continuing education. It also created a nationally-recognized standard for all K9 units and trainers through an accreditation program.
“It’s not a competition, it’s not who can do it better than the other dog," explained Rick Ashabranner, national elector president, NAPWDA.
The handlers and K9s often work in life or death situations, whether it's looking for a lost child or bringing a suspect into custody.
The certification is required by a number of states and many departments obtain the certification for the purpose of court.
“There’s patrol work on the tracking, obedience, building search, article search," Ashabranner said. "We have multiple detections: cadaver, search and rescue [and] narcotic detection. So those are the different disciplines we’ll be offering training in or certification in.”
Channel 3's cameras were the only ones there when the dogs rain through different drills and prepared for real-life situations.
“They know what their task is, they know what they have to do, and they do do it," said Peter Osowiecki, K9 Officer, Suffield police.
Osowiecki is a master trainer.
He joined forces with other master trainers to help K9 officers from departments across the country.
“The wealth of knowledge that’s here is incredible, it’s absolutely incredible," he said.
Osowiecki said there were more than 30 states represented at the workshop.
Once the week is over, the teams will go back home.
The certification lasts for a year.
They'll be together again next year to build on their skills.
“It’s exciting and it demonstrates to all of us how much time and effort involved in each handler has in preparing their dog for a patrol work shift everyday," said Chief Richard Brown, Suffield police.
Anyone wanting to see the dogs in action can see a demonstration at the Big E grounds in West Springfield, MA at 6 p.m. on Thursday.
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