Canine units are a growing part of public safety forces across the United States, from small local police departments to federal agencies like the TSA and Customs and Border Protection. Dogs are loyal workers and trusted partners to their handlers — and well-trained police dogs can find hidden drugs, detect explosives, and track suspected criminals.
Some agencies rely not only on dogs’ detection skills, but also on their ability to inspire fear. Attack dogs, also called protection dogs, can be trained to pursue, confront, and subdue potential attackers or other suspects. Successfully training a police protection dog requires years of careful work, particularly because the dog must be responsive to its handler at all times and in a wide variety of situations. The dog must be calm and respectful at crowded public events, even tolerating the occasional pat from a stranger. But the dog must also be willing and able to attack a person on command.
When training protection dogs to attack, handlers wear “bite suits” to protect themselves from cuts and abrasions. A full bite suit consists of heavily padded pants, jacket, boots, mitts or gloves, and a hood or helmet. At times, some trainers use gauntlets or special sleeves instead of a padded jacket.
Since protection dogs need weekly training throughout their careers, departments with canine units usually acquire their own bite suits. Storing those suits can be a problem because bite suits are large and they must be stored in a well-ventilated area to prevent molding and odor. In other words, a bite suit soaked with sweat and dog slobber can’t be stuffed in a closet, drawer, or personal locker.
We recently devised a creative way to use an existing Spacesaver product to create bite suit storage for the Carlsbad Police Department in Carlsbad, Calif. We specified a Tactical Readiness Locker with double doors and an 84″ height and 30″ depth. The locker’s sides, doors, and back are made of perforated steel mesh, which allows air to flow around the suits and accessories. A rail provides hanging storage for the jackets, and the pants can be folded loosely and stored below. Dividers were added to create compartments for helmets, boots, gauntlets, and other accessories. The suit’s carrying bag can be stored in the lowest compartment and a high shelf provides additional storage. A padlock hasp ensures that the expensive suits, which can cost around $1500 each, are securely stored.