SINGAPORE: Security firm Certis has formed a K-9 unit, the first of its kind by an auxiliary police force in Singapore, the company said on Tuesday (Jan 29).
Starting with 10 dogs, the unit will begin operations in the first half of 2019, and could grow to 24 dogs. However, that depends on "market demand".
Mr Matthew Ng, commanding officer of Certis CISCO's Enforcement & Events Division, said that the dogs can be trained to sniff out explosives and narcotics with more than 90 per cent accuracy, far exceeding the accuracy rate of machines which stands at 60 to 70 per cent.
Mr Ng said thorough car checks, for example, can be completed in five to 10 minutes, much faster than the estimated 20 to 30 minutes by two officers.
The K-9 unit will complement Certis CISCO auxiliary police and aviation security officers, and can be deployed at transport hubs and major events where human traffic is high.
The company, which is wholly owned by Temasek Holdings, said that events such as the Singapore bicentennial commemoration this year, are opportunities for its newly formed unit.
“We take on functions that allow the Singapore Police to concentrate on their policing function and not so much of guarding or escorting,” said Mr Ng. “Similarly the K-9 unit will be able to lighten the load of the Singapore Police Force K-9 (unit) by taking on some of these functions that relieve them of their guarding role."
Certis said it sources its dogs from the same breeders in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands that the police K-9 unit relies on as well, and it adheres to the same standards.
Mr Ng said the dogs are well taken care of, with a dedicated vet and quarterly health checks.
Once the dogs reach eight years old, they will be retired and put up for adoption, like those in the K-9 unit of the Singapore Police Force. If they are not adopted, they will be used to train younger dogs through "social learning", until their dying days.
Certis will launch its own kennel in Toh Tuck, which will include grooming and training facilities, by the third quarter of 2019. Meanwhile, it is currently running its K-9 unit training at The Animal Resort at Seletar Farmway.
Certis' move to diversify comes on the back of its transformation efforts, announced last October, to become an integrated securities solutions provider from a physical guarding services provider.
The company said it has invested a "significant investment" to set up the K-9 unit, but declined to give a ballpark figure as it was “commercially sensitive”.