Local sheriff's office borrows NY Air Guard Base for dog training

  • Published
  • By Jaclyn Lyons
  • 109th Airlift Wing

The Schenectady County Sheriff Department K-9 unit trained at Stratton Air National Guard Base on June 16th, 2021.

The K-9s and their handlers were able to utilize the base track, surrounding wooded areas and a building to train in different scenarios and get the dogs in a new environment.

“As far as training goes here, it is always nice to get the dogs in a new environment, the more environments they are exposed to in training; the better they will do on the job,” said Jeff Calder, K9 administrative director for the Office of the Sheriff, Schenectady County.

Capt. Luis Robitaille, 109th security forces operations officer, said the training helps strengthen the relationship between the base and the department.

“We have a good working relationship they love to help us out as much as possible and we love to reciprocate it, we have been working together for several years and it has really bolstered our force protection on base,” said Robitaille.

The K-9 unit is a 4- man unit that has dogs trained in explosives, narcotics, tracking and patrolling. Calder explained that they like to utilize the base facilities when available because it offers a lot of different areas ranging from pavements, grassy and wooded areas to different types of buildings.

“The facility is wide open, there are a lot of areas and it is secured. We don’t have to worry about people not involved in the training stepping into the training area,” Calder said.

Calder also said the department has been dispatched with the K-9s for explosive detection, which includes bomb and gun detection, for any dignitaries or large events happening at the air base.
Airman 1st Class Mitchell Mihalko, a security forces defender assigned to the 109th, explained that the K-9s are a force multiplier- or a tool that helps amplify their efforts to produce more output.

“We work with the dogs pretty often for big events like family day or open houses to search for narcotics, explosives or weapons residue and we also hold training events between security forces and civilian law enforcement. They also periodically come out for routine checks around the base” Mihalko said.

The 109th Security Forces do not have a dog handler career field so any event where K-9 support is needed, the Sheriff Department shows up and handles that for the base, he explained.

“We have a great relationship and we really learn a lot from each other” Mihalko said.