Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
Public Affairs Division – Washington, DC
Contact: Public Affairs Division
SRT Canine Program
The Special Response Team (SRT) Canine Program is the utilization of hand-picked canines and handlers trained in areas which support the SRT mission of reducing violent crime and protecting the public. The SRT canine teams are trained and certified in the following six areas:
- Building Search
- Area Search
- Evidence Search
- Aggression Control
- One tactical canine (Ike) is also trained and certified in explosives detection
There are eight SRT-trained tactical canine teams throughout the country with ATF special agents/SRT operators acting as the handlers. The SRT program trains its canines in-house, and utilizes a national association, with no ties to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) as the certifying body. The certifying entity is the North American Police Work Dogs Association (NAPWDA).
The primary goal of the SRT tactical canine program is to provide each SRT with an additional tool (the canine) to locate and/or apprehend hidden or fleeing felons/suspects.
Since 2000, the ATF SRT program has trained a total of fifteen canine teams (five of which are retired, one currently inactive, and one passed away in 2004). These dogs and their SRT-trained handlers are assigned to teams based in the following core cities:
- Detroit, Mich.
- Sterling, Va.
- Miami, Fla.
- Dallas, Texas
- Los Angeles, Calif.
In 2000, the first full time canine team successfully completed an eight-week training program which culminated in a certification of the first SRT canine, Boomer, as a “patrol” dog. Throughout the next 12+ years, the program evolved with the formal institution of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), a formal training lesson plan and program, a formal maintenance training program for the remainder of the canines working life, and the establishment of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) as the primary training base.
The primary training base for the SRT Canine Program is at the FLETC located in Brunswick, Ga. This base offers thousands of acres of secured tracking areas, more than 40 buildings with varied floor plans for building search training, an explosives range for neutrality to NFDD and gunfire training, a counterterrorism training center utilized for both tracking and building searches (including small crawl spaces and attics), and secure indoor and outdoor obedience training locations.