Toxi and Skeet Report for Duty

Susan Guibert | January 16, 2018

They may be rookie cops, but two newbies on the Notre Dame Security Police force bring some impressive credentials. Young and ambitious, expertly trained and laser-focused, their instincts are sharp, their reflexes agile. And when the two act on a hunch, their partners back them without question.

Unless they spot a squirrel. Or a ball. Or popcorn on the ground.

“Even though they’re working dogs, they’re still dogs, which means that they can get distracted, especially by squirrels or balls,” says Anthony Clark, a 27-year veteran of the NDSP who serves as one of the dog’s handlers.

Eighteen-month-old Toxi and three-year-old Skeet, two black Labrador retrievers brought onto the campus police force in September, are trained to detect explosives among crowds of people. They sniff out “airborne explosives” — those concealed on a person as opposed to buried in the ground — in a process called Vapor Wake detection.

The use of dogs on university police forces is common, but Clark and fellow officer Jarett Gilpin are two of only about 200 officers trained to handle specialized explosives dogs. “I’ve always thought it would work out well here at Notre Dame to have a K-9 force — either a drug dog, tracking dog, explosives dog or even a therapy dog,” Clark says.  “Explosives are their focus because of what’s going on in the world today. It adds an additional layer of protection.”

Since their training equips them to uncover the scent of explosives on people in large crowds, Toxi and Skeet’s work schedule reads more like a student’s social calendar: They attend pep rallies, football games, tailgates and concerts, among other popular campus gatherings.

“There are checkpoints going into events, but the dogs are trained to ‘search’ moving people and walk among the crowd,” explains Gilpin, Toxi’s handler.

Read more here. 

 by Daily Domer Staff

Posted In: ND Magazine