SYDNEY, June 17 (Xinhua) -- An elite contingent of prison pooches has been welcomed in Australia, with Corrective Services New South Wales (NSW) unveiled the latest additions to their K9 team.
After an intensive 16-week training course, the K9 handlers and their drug-detecting dogs graduated in a ceremony on Wednesday, and will be sent to frontline duties in prisons across the state.
The dogs will be added to what is already a successful program, according to Corrective Services NSW Assistant Commissioner James Koulouris, who said the K9 unit is one of the world's best.
"The additions to this specialized dog unit will only further the security capabilities of what is already a world class unit at Corrective Services NSW," Koulouris told Xinhua.
"We are committed to ensuring the security and safety of our staff, and of our facilities across the state, and these new K9s and their handlers will be a valuable tool in that mission."
The K9 training manager Sharon Charman was also thrilled with their progress, saying that the new dogs and their handlers have been trained well for their integration to the team.
"The new recruits have learnt a variety of theory including dog psychology and dealing with incidents to the practical experience of searching inmates and visitors at correctional centers," Charman said.
"The class was a great mix -- with the correctional officers coming from a variety of backgrounds and experiences -- and they all worked well together while their dogs were very adaptive to new environments and information."
The dogs have to undertake a variety of different roles within the prison system, with some being trained to sniff out contraband, while others are used to detect dangerous devices, such as explosives.
The prison pooches are part of the elite Security Operations Group, who conducted over 85,000 searches of visitors to jails last year, with 67,000 of those undertaken by the K9 unit.
One of the handlers of the new dogs Ben Kember, who was paired with a 14-month-old kelpie called Jazzie, said it was pleased with the fact that the dogs all matched very well with their new handlers.
"All the new recruits selected a dog at the beginning of the course, the personalities clicked and we stayed with them throughout the course," Kember said. "All the dogs got along well like their handlers."
"I feel thankful to be part of this unit and assist staff at all the centres to ensure we're stopping drugs and other contraband from coming into the prisons." he added.