SINGAPORE – Dressed neatly in a uniform embossed with his name, Bonzo stands at attention as his boss presents him with his badge, signifying the start of his auxiliary police career.
But when it comes to taking the auxiliary police officer pledge, his partner has to recite it on his behalf, as Bonzo is a different breed of auxiliary police altogether – he’s a sniffer dog.
“Officers” Bonzo, Naomi, Peppe, Aspa and Turbo are the pioneering batch of security firm Certis’s new K-9 unit.
The five furry “officers” are certified by the Singapore Police Force, and they received their proficiency badges from Certis Singapore’s chief executive Ronald Poon in a presentation ceremony on Wednesday (Oct 16) at the firm’s headquarters in Paya Lebar.
The firm will soon deploy the canines to large-scale entertainment events like concerts to conduct security sweeps, and there are plans for the dogs to work in the aviation and hospitality sectors.
Assistant Superintendent (Auxiliary Police Force) Matthew Ng, the commanding officer of the K-9 unit, said the new unit, formed a year ago, can help auxiliary police carry out security sweeps faster and more accurately.
For example, while their human counterparts may take about 15 minutes to search a vehicle, dogs can complete the job in just five to seven minutes with their keen sense of smell, he said.
The dogs are trained to recognise the scents of explosives by Singapore Police Force-certified trainers through a three- to four-month-long training programme, he added. Dogs and their handlers spend a few months bonding before they are trained.
Canines are also likely to be more accurate than machines in detecting explosives, said ASP (APF) Ng.
“For explosive trace devices, the accuracy will range from 70 to 85 per cent, but a dog can consistently have an accuracy rate of 90 per cent,” he said.
“Dogs are also very mobile and very fast, they can go where the cargo is ,” he said.
The five dogs were sourced from breeders in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, and are between the ages of one and two.
They will retire after about eight years in service.
There are plans to expand the unit, and the next batch of dogs will undergo the certification test next year, he said.
“We are also actively exploring with the police on the possibility of deploying security dogs, or even narcotics dogs,” said ASP (APF) Ng.