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Canine (K9) Operations

The U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) Canine (K9) Operations program provides dedicated protective, investigative, and enforcement K9 support to U.S. Marshals Service missions.

Canine Dog


Until 2001, the agency relied mostly on local, state, and other federal K9 units for assistance. In 2001, the current USMS K9 Operations Program was established as a collateral duty program focused primarily on explosives and firearms detection.  In 2016, Tactical K9 (TK9) operations was established.

USMS K9 team consists of a highly trained K9 and a Deputy U.S. Marshal (DUSM) handler.

Explosive Detection Canine (EK9) Operations

The EK9 provides dedicated explosives and firearms detection/countermeasures for USMS protective, investigative, and enforcement missions and support other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. The USMS EK9 provide a strong visible and psychological deterrent against criminal and terrorist threats at USMS and Federal Court facilities. EK9 operations include but are not limited to Judicial Conferences, high-threat trials, (i.e., terrorism), and search warrants. USMS participates in the ATF Explosives Detection Canine Course for basic K9 course.

Training is conducted at ATF National Canine Training Center, Front Royal, VA. EK9s are Labrador Retrievers that were originally breed for service work. When dogs do not meet service dog requirements, they are tested and evaluated for detection work in law enforcement. EK9s are trained on the food reward methodology and train to detect over 19,000 different types of explosives.

  • Specialize Search Dog (SSD): SD K9s are trained in-house to detect explosives and firearms on people. This ability provides USMS additional screening and searching capability during high threat missions.
  • ATF Certified Explosives Specialist (CES) Training:  EK9 handlers attend ATF two-week explosives training to enhance explosives knowledge as it relates to EK9 operations.

Tactical Canine (TK9) Operations

The USMS TK9 provides tactical K9 resources that are specifically trained to conduct USMS enforcement operations in accordance with USMS policies and standard operating procedures. These teams are familiar with, and integrated into, USMS enforcement operations.  TK9s are Malinois trained in-house by USMS K9 trainers. TK9s have camera systems that provide investigators the ability to “see" what the K9 is seeing remotely.

The primary purpose of the TK9s is to:

  • Increase the safety of the public, mitigate the risk to DUSMs, other federal, state and local law enforcement officials, as well as suspects during USMS field operations, which includes high-risk and critical incident operations.
  • Support USMS fugitive apprehension operations.
    • During these operations the TK9s would be used primarily as a search tool. The USMS can use the TK9s to identify the presence of a suspect in an un-cleared room; this would prevent investigators and task force officers from having to expose themselves to an unknown threat. This information could be used by investigators to apprehend a suspect or clear a residence in an alternate manner.
  • The TK9s could also be used around the perimeter to alert of suspects attempting to enter or exit an operational area.
  • Tracking: Fugitives or suspects who evade arrest can be tracked in both urban and rural environments. TK9s can be used to track, locate and contain suspects before they can cause harm to the public.

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Purple Heart K9 Dog

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