CSUN is happy to welcome Officer Briska, an explosives detection dog and the newest addition to the campus police K-9 Unit.
From afar, Briska may look like an intimidating dog, but up close, she is a charming 4-year-old German shepherd who received extensive training abroad in bomb detection.
“A special thing about Briska is that she is a sworn in peace officer,” said Lt. Fred Fernandez, day operations commander for campus police. “She has the same protections as police officers in this department. She is not just a dog. She is a police officer.”
According to K-9 Officer Ray Gonzalez, Briska’s handler, she was born in the Netherlands before being transported to Germany.
While in Germany, Briska received special training called “Schutzhund Training.”
This training originated in Germany as a breeding suitability test for German shepherds. The training provides breeders with a method to evaluate temperament, character, and trainability in order to select and use only the highest quality dogs for breeding programs.
Many of the dogs imported, like Briska, receive this training before they go through more specialized training in the United States.
“This training consists of tracking, obedience and protection,” Gonzalez said. “What’s special about her is that she only understands commands in German.”
Briska only learned the commands in German, and Gonzalez had to undergo training to learn the commands in German.
“(I) had to learn German commands,” Gonzalez said. “It’s a lot easier for us to learn a couple of words in German, than for Briska to learn English.”
Briska is only a bomb detection dog, and will not be doing any patrolling around campus, said Fernandez.
“She is an explosives detection dog, not an attack dog,” said Anne Glavin, chief of police. “This makes her a wonderful new tool for our response capability.”
Although CSUN has not experienced any serious bomb threats, the department has had more security present at events on campus since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
“We average a couple of bomb calls per year,” Glavin said in a written statement. “We are in the habit of paying extra attention to event venues in response to elevated security concerns in our current world atmosphere.”
CSUN and CSU Channel Islands are the only campuses in the CSU system to have a K-9 Unit. CSUN was able to afford its K-9 Unit through $16,000 in donations by various police associations.
“The dog was donated by the Ingles Police Dog Academy, and the training was donated by the Ventura County K-9 Association,” Fernandez said. “The value between both of them was $16,000.”
On a typical day, Gonzalez and Briska might be seen around campus or present at campus events. Fernandez assures, however, that if you see them, it doesn’t automatically mean there is a threat.
“Just because you see Officer Gonzalez and Briska doesn’t mean that a bomb search is going on,” Fernandez said. “Approach Briska, pet her, and learn a little more about her.”