OKLAHOMA CITY (KOKH) — Spring is right around the corner and that means festivals and crowds. Security experts call these major public gatherings “soft targets” for those meaning to do harm. Aside from pre-event sweeps and active patrols, there’s been little anyone could do about preventing acts of violence, but an Oklahoma company is now working to provide roving patrols that will help sniff out potential problems without interrupting activities.
The company is called Phantom K9 and while it’s run out of Oklahoma, the business was founded from Iraq when Christopher Cook and other veterans who were working as security contractors.
“We were sitting there and we provide this service over there for all these diplomats but we see the need back here in the United States,” Cook explained. “At that time, there was nobody that was really catering to events.”
Police departments and other law enforcement agencies do use bomb and drug sniffing dogs and have performed sweeps of venues around the city and state. Cook, however, wanted something more. He saw the potential danger of someone bringing something into an already cleared venue.
Phantom K9 trained dogs not just to detect explosives, but do react calmly to the discovery. They also focused on making sure the canines were friendly and eager to meet people. With many bomb-sniffing working dogs, the public is strongly discouraged from interacting with them.
Phantom K9 began providing this service to the Denver Nuggets arena in Colorado. The dogs do a pre-game sweep, but stick around to meet the fans. Even though they are relaxing while getting petted, their noses are always on the ready.
“Our dogs are very friendly, we allow them to interact with the fans whenever the fans come into that arena, we encourage them to interact we want the dogs just as much a part of the experience as the game,” Cook said.
The dogs also stick around until after the game. Cook said they do sweeps of exit routes to ensure nothing dangerous has been planted while the attention is on the game. He said the bad guys know that is a soft spot, but his dogs will make sure everyone gets out of the arena safely.
Cook and Phantom K9 area also looking to expand in Oklahoma as well and have talked with events and venues about providing a service that improves safety while also adding some friendly dogs to the visitor experience.