The Police does not work alone to bring down the crime rate as they have to collaborate with many stakeholders like the government, public and communities. Apart from those, the Royal Bhutan Police has a sniffer dog unit called K9-unit, which helps them in many ways.
RBP has seven dogs based in Thimphu skilled in different techniques like tracking culprits, explosive detection, drugs detection and tobacco detection.
The Officer in-charge of the K9 unit said that, they send them based on the requisition put by the field officers. So far, they have not received too many requisitions from field officers but they deploy the bomb detector dogs quite often.
However, in 2014, there was an attempt to murder case in Paro whereby the field officer had put up a requisition. They are satisfied with what K9 unit had done as it helped solve the case.
In-order to deploy the dogs, he said, “We need to have some evidence left by the criminals at the scene of the crime. No matter how far the criminal goes, the dog can catch up with them but they should make sure that the evidence is left untouched by humans”.
Citing an example of how effective the K9 unit is, he said that a hat left at the scene of the crime by the culprit, saw the dog sniff the evidence left by the criminal and subsequently track the criminal. The dog took the team to scene of crime, in a ground just above a house.
The dog could track one house in which there was one woman who immediately started closing the door after seeing the dog along with the team coming towards the house. After investigating the evidence in the house, it was found that the culprit was 50 year old man.
Nevertheless, there should not be any distraction for the dogs as distraction leads them to perform at a below par level. He said, there should not be any other dogs nearby while carrying out with their search. Barking of other dogs leads to distraction and they fail to conduct their duty.
In the K-9 unit the two bomb sniffers are a six year old male name Henry Otto and a seven year old female named Viper.
The drug sniffer is a seven year old male named Joker and a tobacco sniffer is a six year old female named Epi Farsal. All of the above are Belgian Shepherds.
The three tracker dogs who are all Labradors are three year old male named Jack, another three year old female named Belly and a three year old female named Brandy.
“We face problems in keeping the dog out of distraction but we are keeping on updating the training to address this issue”, he added. Talking about the training, he said that, they are updating the training on a weekly basis where they take the dogs to Kuensel Phodrang and sometime to Chamgang.
He said, “Before bringing in the dogs, we had to send our personnel for training to India. They were trained along with the dog and the same person has to be with the dog for six months”. Once they are done with the training, than they buy the dog and bring it in the country.
These dogs are an assets as have much more advanced senses than humans. During the time of training, he said, “In case of drugs related issues, drugs can find the drugs even after it is hidden in isolated places”.
In the case of items like gun, money and bullets they hide them and make the dogs search for it. “We use different ways to hide pharmaceutical drugs by hiding it in cars, houses and keeping it at a distance but they track it fast ”, he said.
He said that, they do not face any challenges during the time of training. However, the challenge is in the field.
They deploy the K9 unit whenever there is a visit of VIP or whenever there is a big event in the country.
He said, “Two bomb detector dogs were deployed for the recent important events like Zhabdrung Kuchoe in Punakha and during the visit of Duke and Duchess.”
He said that, they cannot effort to lose those dogs since they are expensive and have skills. “We want them to help us in reducing crime and catching culprits”, he added.
Dogs can give an effective performance till they reach an age of 8 years, and after which their performance gradually drops.
RBP in the future has a plan to deploy at-least three dogs (explosive detector, tracker and drug sniffer) in Central Bhutan and Southern Bhutan where as the west can be covered by Thimphu.