Governor Martin O'Malley today pledged support for expanding Maryland's internationally recognized K9 Unit of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS). The unit today graduated seven K9 teams plus a handler and dog trained for the Delaware Department of Correction.
"By making the choice to invest in better technology and coordination, we've driven down violent crime to 30-year lows and created stronger communities across Maryland," said Governor O'Malley. "With over 800 phones detected since 2009, the K9 training program is a critical part of our strategy to drive down crime in correctional facilities. That's why we're building on that progress, investing over half a million dollars in the FY15 budget to expand the unit by seven positions."
For the last six years, the K-9 Unit has averaged close to 93,000 searches a year across the DPSCS system. The 49 dogs making up the Unit are trained to detect cell phones, drugs, tobacco, and other contraband. In the last two fiscal years, DPSCS K-9s have found almost 1,300 pieces of contraband, including 254 cell phones.
The O'Malley-Brown administration has strongly supported DPSCS in multiple areas, helping the Department improve technology, training, hiring, staffing, and intelligence gathering. This includes $563,000 in the FY "15 budget to expand the Department's K9 Unit by seven positions. This means more dogs and handlers to work the entire state in the ongoing battle against contraband.
"Because contraband breeds violence, stopping it from getting into our institutions, and finding it if it does, will always be a top priority for this Department." said DPSCS Secretary Gregg Hershberger. "Especially over the last seven years, our K9 Unit has played a vital role in making our top priority a reality for DPSCS."
Today's graduation featured eight DPSCS K9 teams. Most of the dogs came from rescue centers, shelters, and animal control agencies. Some may have been euthanized but for the K9 Unit being able to transform them into successful detector dogs. At the end of the ceremony, the K9 teams demonstrated their expertise, with the dogs repeatedly finding contraband items, including hidden cell phones.
An integral part of the State's effort to combat contraband inside the prison system, DPSCS' K9 Unit was among the first in the nation to breed and train its own cell phone detector dogs in house, saving tax dollars. As a result of their pioneering expertise, DPSCS K9 has trained dozens of state, national, and international law enforcement agencies on cell phone detection. These law enforcement agencies hail from across the globe, including Mexico, Israel, Canada, Haiti, Saudi Arabia, and Australia.