The Alexandria Sheriff's Office K-9 team took second place overall in explosives detection at a national competition last week. Deputy John O'Hara and his partner Sherman, a six-year-old Labrador retriever, competed at the United States Police Canine Association's National Detector Dog Field Trial held from Sunday, May 20 through Wednesday, May 23, in Lakeland, Fla.
Deputy O'Hara and Sherman were among 80 K-9 teams from across the country that competed in explosives or narcotics searches. The explosives trials consisted of an odor recognition test and then searches of three areas each worth 100 points - an indoor search with explosives hidden in two of three rooms, a search of 15 packages of which two boxes contained explosives, and an outdoor search of five vehicles with two holding hidden explosives. Deputy O'Hara and Sherman scored 293.01 out of a possible 300 points, finishing in second place overall among explosives teams and just behind the first place team from the Department of Energy that scored 293.34.
Specifically, Deputy O'Hara and Sherman, after first passing the odor recognition test, finished in sixth place in the indoor search with a score of 95 out of 100, first place in the package search with a 99.34 score, and second place in the outdoor search with a score of 98.67. The Alexandria Sheriff's Office team also partnered with a team from Arlington County Police for a combined second place finish in a team category.
Deputy O'Hara and Sherman finished first in two USPCA regional competitions in the Washington, D.C., area in 2010 and 2011. In their regular duties, the team investigates suspicious packages, conducts safety sweeps of the Courthouse, Detention Center and other public buildings, and attends community events where they demonstrate training and detection techniques. They have been working together since 2007.