Trained canines search for weapons in Alabama school district

Calhoun County Schools in Alabama is first district in the nation to pilot a "vapor wake detection" service
By: | Issue: February, 2015
January 21, 2015

Security dogs trained to detect the vapors in ammunition and bombs are being used in school district security for the first time. Calhoun County Schools in Alabama became the first district in the nation this year to pilot a vapor wake detection service with a canine officer.

The vapor wake service was developed at Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Dogs that are scientifically bred and trained by AMK-9 Protection and Security Services learn to pick out odors at concentrations lower than even the most sophisticated machines can measure. They can also track the vapor wake that a moving object leaves in the air several minutes after the object has left the space.

Calhoun County’s dog is named QT. If he smells the vapors that come off of a gun or illegal substance, he will pull toward the scent with both front paws, which signals his human partner. If a suspect stops moving, QT will stop too, and wait until the suspect is on the move again to follow.

The district’s school resource officer went through a four-week training to become QT’s handler, and learned how the dog responds when certain objects are found. Each dog trained in vapor wake detection must go through a six-month training at Auburn University, and pass a certification to be available for purchase.