EKU PD begins training new bomb dog

EKU PD Officer Mark McKinney and his partner-in-training, Havoc. Havoc is a five-month-old German Shepherd donated by Thin Blue Line Kennel. 

Most dogs like to play fetch. Some like to dig under fences or chase squirrels. But for Havoc, a 5-month-old German shepherd, he has a nose for detecting bombs. 

Donated by Thin Blue Line Kennel in Sept., Havoc is being trained to become an officer with the EKU Police Department. Havoc will be EKU’s first-ever bomb dog, and the first in Madison County. 

Bryan Makinen, executive director of public safety, environmental health, safety and risk management, says that having Havoc on board at EKU offers an extra level of protection for the community. 

“With the number of large events we are having on campus continuing to increase and the profile of those are continuing to increase, as well as us hosting dignitaries from all over, and it’s an additional way for us to help keep the population safe,” Makinen said. When we take a look at current events around the world, and current events in higher education, and taking a look at those things as they occur, it became apparent that we needed to augment our police force with a bomb dog.” 

According to MSA Security, America’s largest cargo screening canine provider, dogs are the most effective bomb detectors, sensing bombs four-times faster and more accurately than a human can. 

Officer Mark McKinney of the EKU Police Department is Havoc’s partner and has lived and trained with him for two months. McKinney explained that Havoc is currently attending obedience training once a week and knows different commands like sit, stay, heel and “go to the guard.” 

Havoc is beginning to smell and check explosive powders such as TNT, black powder and ammonium nitrate. Once he knows the smell, McKinney said, they will begin to hide the packages and have Havoc search for them.  

Although Havoc was donated to the EKU Police Department, it does cost the department to have him trained. McKinney said he was unsure of the exact cost. 

Havoc is even trained to know some commands in another language, so that people won’t know what commands he is receiving, McKinney said. 

Makinen explained that previously, the department had waited over three hours to call in another agency, and having Havoc on board would have been advantageous.  

“In times past - let’s say we had a suspicious device, or suspicious package or backpack called in - we had to go hands on with that package or had to call in a bomb squad to deal with those things,” Makinen said. “With Havoc on board, it gives better assessment to what that may be so we may have information we need to call in other sources or we can deactivate the situation sooner and we don’t have police officers digging into bags, so it offers a level of safety for police officers, as well as the community.” 

Makinen said Havoc’s services will be used more so for pre-clearing large events such as sports and political events, as a second level of safety protection for those who patronize the events. 

“Those (suspicious devices calls) eb and flow overtime. There’s some years we get several calls for it and we may go a period of months and never get a single call. But we have an aware population and if they see something that is out of place, they will say something,” Makinen said. 

Havoc will be sworn-in as an official officer of the EKU Police Department by President Benson next year.


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