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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Bomb-sniffing ‘best friend’ protecting UA from threats

    Officer Kyle Morrison of the UAPD and his dog, Michael, demonstrate a search for explosives in a truck Wednesday.
    Officer Kyle Morrison of the UAPD and his dog, Michael, demonstrate a search for explosives in a truck Wednesday.

    Homecoming Weekend is coming soon, and there are two members of the University of Arizona Police Department trained a little differently to ensure the event stays safe.

    Michael and Jessy, two of the five canines used by UAPD, are actively working on the UA campus and in the surrounding area to help deter crime on all fours.

    The other three police dogs work with officers on Mount Graham.

    “”We use Michael before all of the home football and basketball games and even when dignitaries come and speak,”” said UAPD officer Kyle Morrison, Michael’s handler. “”Michael is trained solely for bomb detection, so we arrive early before the games to perform bomb sweeps.

    For this year’s

    We were the first university in the nation to be given a dog from ATF. Being the first is such a unique opportunity.

    – Kyle Morrison, UAPD officer

    Homecoming game Nov. 3, UAPD will be doing preventative sweeps beforehand and will be on standby throughout the event, Morrison said.

    “”Prior to the end of the game, we do a secondary sweep looking in bushes, trash cans and other places where a device might be hidden,”” he said.

    Michael and Morrison travel to perform bomb-detection duties for other events, like the Bowl Championship Series college football game in Glendale between Florida and Ohio State in January, the G8 Economic Conference in Atlanta and the Republican National Convention, according to the UAPD Web site.

    Morrison and Michael comprise the explosive-detection team for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

    The ATF gave UAPD Michael, a 5-year-old black Labrador retriever, in 2004, and the team became a model for similar university couplings, Morrison said.

    “”We were the first university in the nation to be given a dog from ATF,”” he said. “”Being the first is such a unique opportunity.””

    Michael and Morrison train at least three times a week in simulations that keep the dog on his toes.

    Michael, along with the other UAPD canines, lives with his handlers when he is not on duty.

    Although the UA got Michael for free, most canine units can cost from $2,000-6,000, but officers claim the benefits are worth the investment.

    “”There is not a more versatile and better tool for locating anything – people, drugs, bombs – than a police dog,”” said Cpl. Wade Boltinghouse, a handler on Mt. Graham. “”There is not a day that goes by that these dogs do not want to come to work.””

    With nearly 50,000 individuals on campus, UA students said they think the dogs are a great addition to UAPD.

    “”I think having the bomb and drug dogs on campus is great,”” said Sami Zboray, a pre-nursing freshman. “”I’m very sports-oriented, so it’s great to know that a large group of people is protected from bombs. The Homecoming game is coming, and there will be even more people at the stadium, so extra precautions are great.””

    Elyse Adams, an education sophomore, said she agrees, although she has never seen the canine unit on campus.

    “”It further enforces the fact that the university police are really trying to take care and protect us,”” she said.

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