The Leader/Observer was invited to watch Grill, a five-year old female German Shepherd, in action on Tuesday, May 2, as she checked departing passengers on an afternoon flight to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
Grill, who is cross-trained to also detect firearms, did not find any cash or guns. However, to show how she would react if she did find what she was looking for, a plainclothes CPB officer volunteered to slip into the passenger line with a large amount of CBP-supplied $1 bills similar to the number of $100 bills a smuggler would have on his person or in his luggage.
When Grill sniffed the cash the CBP officer was carrying, she reacted just as she had been trained to do, immediately sitting down in front of him. Grill was rewarded for her “find” with her favorite toy, a rolled up terrycloth towel given to her by her handler, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer Chad Duryee, which she eagerly played with.
Although it is legal to transport any amount of currency into or out of the United States, currency reporting laws require individuals to report any money equivalent to $10,000 or more.
CBP officials said the purpose of the agency’s undeclared cash program is to go after criminal organizations, terrorist organizations and money-laundering operations.
Grill also showed off her skills at a cargo warehouse at JFK. For this training exercise, CBP officials hid two unloaded firearms in a box and put the box among the numerous other cargo containers in the warehouse. They then watched as Grill walked up and down the aisles. When the CBP canine came to the box containing the guns she passively sat down, pointing her nose at the container.
Grill and Duryee underwent an intensive 12-week training course at the agency’s training center in Front Royal, Virginia, before being assigned to the canine unit at JFK.
The Shepherds, Labradors and Beagles of the Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection stand ready to protect airline travelers at JFK Airport. Man’s best friend is on duty at JFK 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, stopping narcotics and illegal firearms and protecting citizens from insect infested fruit, vegetables and meat entering the country.
“The canine program has been instrumental in assisting officers to identify cargo and luggage containing contraband quickly and with little effort since the early 1970's when the program was established,” said Gary Walck, deputy chief of the Anti-Terrorism Contraband Enforcement Team (ATCET) at JFK.
“Detector dogs are an integral part of CBP's anti-terrorism and enforcement efforts," he added. "The canine unit serves as a valuable tool to officers in the field as they carry out the agency's mission.”
Further information about Customs and Border Protection is available at www.cbp.gov. To find out about their Outreach Program and demonstrations contact their Public Affairs Office at (646) 733-3275.