STATE OF CONNECTICUT
Department of Emergency Services &
Connecticut State Police
Public Information Office
|Dr. Dora B. Schriro
Colonel Alaric J. Fox
Division of State Police
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
STATE POLICE CELEBRATE 30 YEARS
OF TRAINED ACCELERANT DETECTION CANINES
Middletown, CT. (November 17, 2016): The Connecticut State Police today marked the 30th anniversary of the first canine certified to detect accelerants, leading to hundreds of arsons being solved throughout the state and around the world.
The nation’s first laboratory-certified accelerant detection canine – a female black Labrador retriever named Mattie – was trained by the CT State Police beginning in May 1986. The training program was a product of collaboration between the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the New Haven State’s Attorney’s Office, the State Forensic Science Laboratory, the CSP Canine Unit and the Bureau of the State Fire Marshal.
By September 1, 1986, Mattie was fully trained as the first working Accelerant Detection Canine in the U.S. Mattie learned to alert to a multitude of ignitable liquids commonly used by arsonists. She was required to alert to the exact point of the odor source in order to pinpoint a specific area in which to obtain samples that would later be tested in the lab. Mattie was a true partner to investigators as her work led to numerous arrests and convictions. Mattie’s services expanded beyond fire scene search to include the searching of suspect vehicles, clothing belonging to suspects and containers handled by suspects.
As the Connecticut State Police accelerant canine training grew, it ultimately became a model for future programs and agencies throughout the United States, Canada, Netherlands and Australia. Since a trained canine has the ability to differentiate between accelerants and similar chemical gases normally present in a fire scene, these dogs are invaluable to arson investigations.
Just two years after Mattie was trained, the program’s accomplishments were shared with professional canine trainers, fire investigators and law enforcement administrators. Since then, the Connecticut program has trained canine teams from all across the country and several foreign agencies around the globe including the Netherlands and Australia.
During the past three decades, protocols have been established to protect accelerant canines and their handlers at fire scenes as they may be exposed to hazardous debris, smoke, hot embers and water while sniffing out clues.
Mattie was the leader of the dog pack, becoming the first of 93 Accelerant Detection Canines trained by the Connecticut State Police Canine Unit in the past 30 years. Currently, four accelerant Detection Canines are assigned to the Connecticut State Police Fire & Explosion Investigation Unit and work at fire scenes throughout Connecticut.
The CSP Accelerant Detection Canine is now recognized as the most important contribution to fire investigation in the last 30 years, even replacing expensive and inaccurate mechanical devices. Nothing has had a greater positive impact on the fire investigative process than the dogged investigators trained in the program.
Tails of Hope Foundation Inc. was also on hand to recognize the work of K9 Mattie and all accelerant canines, and to present a rendition of a statute in her honor. Upon completion the statute will be placed at the Connecticut Fire Academy in Windsor Locks.