Delta police rolled out a new dog unit this month aimed at sniffing out drugs, guns and illicit cash being moved on local roads.
The new Traffic Specialty Dog Unit (TSDU) will focus on vehicles and goods travelling through Delta in area DPD Chief Neil Dubord describes as “the horseshoe” in a video produced by the department.
“It goes from the Boundary Bay airport, through to the Point Roberts border, to the BC Ferries, and to the Deltaport,” Dubord says in the video. “We know that criminals use these highways to transport their illegal goods and services.”
“By having these dogs here, I hope we’re putting criminals on notice. And that notice is: don’t do your business here in Delta. These roads are our jurisdiction and with these dogs you’ll see enhanced policing,” Dubord said in an accompanying press release.
As well as helping catch commuting criminals, the TSDU will also focus on traffic safety and enforcement, as well as education and crime prevention initiatives.
The unit is comprised of Const. Catherine Fiddick and two-year-old Ziva, as well as Const. Sunny Gahunia with 15-month-old Remi. Both dogs are Labrador retrievers, and the dogs and their handlers completed a thorough training course last fall to prepare for their new positions.
“The dogs are part of our daily lives now. They’re with us 24-7,” Fiddick said in a press release, adding it’s been quite an adjustment as both the dogs are very high energy and high drive.
“I’m so impressed by their abilities — their noses are so sensitive. They use their noses like we use our eyes.”
The TSDU has been about a year in the making, and Dubord, who attended the unit’s training in Victoria last fall to check on their progress, thanked the Victoria Police Department for their role in providing the training and assisting with the certification.
“I had no idea how complex this training would be. I didn’t expect that level of nuance required to handle these dogs,” he said, noting regular training will continue throughout the year as the dogs are required to re-certify annually.
The two dogs with the TSDU are expected to assist officers in detecting drugs and firearms, but they are still considered single profile dogs and are not trained for other duties such as tracking suspects.
The TSDU is distinct from the RCMP-led Integrated Lower Mainland Police Dog Services team, which counts three DPD officers as members, and will be solely based in Delta. It will work with policing partners such as the Canada Border Services Agency, as well as others including BC Ferries and the Boundary Bay Airport.
The dogs will also be used for community education and outreach work, and the public can expect to see the unit at community events, engaging with youth, and participating in the department’s ongoing education and awareness efforts.
To that end, in this first month of operation, Fiddick and Gahunia are focusing on building relationships in the community.
“We’re definitely on the lookout for facilities to train in,” Fiddick said. “If you have a business or facility in Delta, a warehouse for example, and would like to open it to our unit for training, please reach out to us.”
Anyone interested can contact the Delta Police Department at 604-946-4411 and ask for constables Fiddick or Gahunia.