Explosives detectionK-9 units from across the U.S. helped secure NATO Summit in Chicago

Published 22 May 2012

ATF K-9 teams from Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Texas helped secure the NATO Summit in Chicago this past weekend; on explosives-sniffing dog named Ithaca was also on duty; the dog is famous for his keen sense of smell that enables him to detect approximately 19,000 explosive odor combinations

Among the out-of-towners who descended on Chicago this weekend for the NATO Summit, was a K-9 team from Newark, New Jersey, detailed to work with other security teams sent to the city to help secure the summit.

Leaders from around the world gathered in Chicago this weekend for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization 2012 Summit. Law enforcement throughout Chicago, including the Chicago Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), ramped up security in preparation for the historic event.

ATF says it deployed several highly trained special agents, paired with explosives detection canines, to assist in securing the facilities for the summit talks and events. ATF’s K-9 teams are worked side-by-side with other federal, state, and local law enforcement officers to keep the diplomats and others attending the summit safe throughout the event.

The Explosives Detection Canine teams traveling to Chicago for the NATO Summit are the best of the best,” said Andy Traver, special agent in charge of the ATF Chicago Field Division. “These handlers and their K-9 partners train and prepare all year for an event such as this. Our K-9 teams are here to ensure that all the visitors arriving for the summit are safe.”

The ATF K-9 teams were from Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Texas.

ATF Special Agent Canine Handler Christopher Bombardiere and his canine partner Ithaca were there to help keep everyone safe. Ithaca helps ATF agents and law enforcement officers find explosives, guns, ammunition, and other evidence by using his keen sense of smell that enables him to detect approximately 19,000 explosive odor combinations. A team since 2004, SA/CH Bombardiere and Ithaca have worked numerous high-profile security events and criminal investigations including a New York search where expended shell casings, converted firearms and ammunition were discovered.

The agency says it has used its explosives detection canines at other special events including Republican and Democratic National Conventions, Presidential Inaugurations, G-8 Summit meetings, World Series, NASCAR events, 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, and Super Bowls.

ATF’s program, which began in 1986, uses only Labrador retrievers. The dogs are supplied by the Guiding Eyes for the Blind, the Guide Dog Foundation, and Canine Companions for Independence. These specialty canines attend a 10-week training program with their handlers that are conducted at the ATF Canine Training Center in Fort Royal, Virginia. Upon completion of this course, the canines are trained to detect a variety of explosive compounds and materials that could be used in an explosive device. The canines can also detect firearms and ammunition and are used in the more traditional protective search and sweep operations. The teams train on a daily basis.