The Fairfax County Police Department on June 28 introduced K9 officer – Browser – a black Labrador that is a certified electronic-detection canine. The dog is trained to find electronic-media storage and other digital devices, such as hard drives, USB drives and cell phones.
Browser finds such items by detecting a distinct chemical found in electronics. He can pinpoint where the electronics are and find devices as small as a micro-SD card, police said.
A community partner’s donation allowed the department to acquire Browser. The dog received several months of initial training from the vendor and spent an additional 40 hours with his handler, Detective Ray McCoy.
To fine-tune their skills, the pair completed another 200 hours of training sponsored by a federal partner. When they are not conducting a search, Browser and Detective McCoy continue to train twice a day to keep their skills sharp. The pair train more than double the number of hours required per month, police said.
Browser and Detective McCoy are assigned to the Child Exploitation Unit of the department’s Major Crimes, Cyber and Forensics Bureau. Browser helps detectives quickly locate electronic-storage devices and finds items that otherwise may have been difficult to discover.
During a search, K9 Browser is led by his handler. If the dog finds a device, he sits down and is rewarded with food.
During an incident last August, Browser and Detective McCoy were called to help a Fairfax County probation and parole officer search the home of a registered sex offender. During the search, Browser alerted the team about a bag in which the probation officer found a hidden device that had inappropriate recordings of women from a neighboring jurisdiction, police said.
Browser is only one of only two electronic-detection canines in Virginia, and he and Detective McCoy help other jurisdictions when needed.
When Browser is not working or training, he is a beloved office companion and member of the McCoy family, police said.