The Philippines’ first and only industry magazine that deals with safety and security matters pervading the environment today.

Man’s Best friend: Helper, Servant, Protector

Dogs are man’s best friend. With the domestication of these species, dogs are regarded as helpers, servants and protectors. Since then, their significant roles have been highly regarded in modern society. Today, dogs are used in tracking explosives and illegal drugs preventing potential security threats and assisting in property protection.

In the Philippines, dogs play a significant role in security. The K9 Reference Manual of the Philippine National Police Security Agencies and Guards Supervision Division (SAGSD) states that a K9, which sounds like the term ‘canine,’ is a well-trained dog that assists the police and law enforcement personnel in their work, which includes guarding, protecting and detecting bombs. Police dogs are often referred as K9.

Little Explosive Detectors

Dogs trained under SAGSD are good in explosives detection. Sr. Supt. Ferdinand Santos, chief of the Private Security Training Management Branch under SAGSD says, “With the current challenges, particularly in terrorism, prevention and detection of explosives are crucial.” He cites a dog that was used to detect a container of explosives in the port of Manila. This operation was part of the Philippine National Police’s initiatives for the continuous security of the country.

Sr. Supt. Buenaventura Viray adds, “Criminality, including pilferage of property and management of emergencies are other areas that should be addressed. Trained canines provide a vital link in thwarting terrorist’s threats.”

Similar to a Hollywood action flick, but its role is very real – a bomb-sniffing dog that can detect possible risks and eventually save the day. In reality, several essential elements should be considered. To effectively deal with any type of threat, the dog’s breed is critical during the selection stage. Some breeds are more adept at safeguarding rather than detecting explosives. The dog is only as good as how its handler evaluates various situations. Handlers should know how to deal with the temperament of the trained dog and be able to assess the gravity of the situation. This is also the reason training and registration of canines in explosives detection is conducted by SAGSD.

Meeting Global Standards

SAGSD ensures that the dogs’ training follows international standards and enables the canines to adapt to the local conditions. Even ’green dogs,’ or those that do not have any previous training can be honed to specific tasks. Generally, these canines undergo a three-month training program. This involves a combination of hand-on training and application with the handlers. Aside from the rigid training, the quality of the dogs is further strengthened through an evaluation from a private entity every six months and passing the standards of the 2003 Revised Rules and Regulations (IRR) implementing the Republic Act 5487 or the Supplemental Guidelines and Procedures on Private Security Agency Canine Service Provider and Training School Registration, Accreditation and Evaluation. This allows for “the establishment of highly efficient and competent canine management section to support the administrative services, regulatory and general supervision over the organization, business operation and activities of registered canine service providers where the police act as the regulator.

The regulation covers both licensing and post-licensing processes. The former includes compliance with requirements and completion of the reference materials for both the security agency and the guards. The latter provides continued quality of work with compliance of reports and records, and a duly inspected firearms vault mandated by SAGSD. Looking at the bigger picture, the supervision and management provided by SAGSD for the quality of K9 support ensures the competence, quality and professionalism of more than 345,000 security guards in 1,200 agencies nationwide.

Dynamic Role of Security Guards

Security guards are often assigned in critical places of convergence and infrastructure like commercial establishments and commuter train stations. Security agencies that are also canine service providers have trained dogs with their handlers in these areas allowing a higher level of alertness. As emphasized in the K9 Reference Manual, “The proper training, handling, selection, evaluation and ensuing employment/deployment of protector and detector canines, with due regard to their care, safe handling and health management, as well as their subsequent registration and accreditation as testimony of their efficiency and effectiveness are paramount in ensuring the public of a competent and reliable canine industry. [It] shall be treated as the most cost-effective and most reliable partner of law enforcement, security agencies and the public against the proliferation of criminality and the threat of terrorism.” This provision is essential with the variety and evolution of threats over the past few years worldwide.

A quick, effective and appropriate response is very important and necessary. Security, in this true sense, not merely relates to the safety of an individual but essentially for the welfare of the whole community. With the significant changes happening in the modern world, SAGSD is also working with more innovations. In terms of the law, changes in the IRR are being targeted to the areas of concern. Suggestions for the IRR came from the Philippine Association of Detective and Protective Agency Operators, Inc. (PADPAO) and Philippine Association of Recognized Security Training Schools, Inc. (PARSTS). This gave an opportunity for inputs from those on the ground that included strict measures based on local conditions. There is also a move to have specialized courses for security guards. Currently, there are only generalized and refresher courses offered by SAGSD. Once the specialized training programs are in place, the field of private security can now delve deeper into security in the areas of aviation, maritime, commercial, campus, tourism, hotels and restaurants and VIPs.

Such current developments will strengthen the role of security agencies. A wide spectrum of innovations will cater to the further development of security guards, handlers and trained canines. With these, dogs will remain man’s best friend.•