On the case – Transit Safety K9 unit teams up with Toronto Police Service to respond to suspicious boxes outside Toronto’s Union Station

Large foot lockers recently left unattended on the sidewalk outside the historic downtown bus and rail station raised more than curious looks by passersby – they led to a quick response by one of Metrolinx’s new explosive detection dogs. No explosives were found, but it was a real-world example of why the teams patrol busy transit hubs, and why they work so closely with local emergency services departments.

A couple of unattended storage boxes, left just outside Toronto’s Union Station this week, held mounting suspicion for one of Transit Safety’s new K9 teams.

The hefty and worn, hard-sided containers – commonly used to move heavy industrial equipment – were tucked next to bins for free urban flyers, at the corner of Bay and Front Streets on Tuesday afternoon (March 10).

The large boxes seemed abandoned.  Which is why Metrolinx Transit Safety was alerted, and why Tango, one of the team’s explosive detection dogs, was literally put on the case.

Image shows a large box beside newspaper boxes.

A view of one of the boxes, as it was left outside Union Station on Tuesday. As it was left unattended, it raised a security concern. (Metrolinx photo)

Along with handler, Special Constable Will Ng, Tango regularly responds to suspicious packages in and around Metrolinx property and equipment. But this time, the specially-trained dog detected an explosive odour.

Image shows the two large containers.

The two boxes, including one left behind paper boxes on Front St., in downtown Toronto. (Metrolinx photo)

Toronto Police – including their Explosive Disposal and K9 units – as well as Toronto Fire’s hazardous material team, all responded to the scene.

A man arrived to say he was the owner of the boxes, including the one that gave off the scent, and that he had left them behind while using nearby facilities.

No explosives were found, though Toronto Police investigators say it’s likely the container held pyrotechnics some time previously. Those trace elements set off Tango’s response.

Traffic was blocked off in the area for safety but no transit delays were reported, and Tango and Constable Ng returned to their regular patrol.

Image shows oficer Ng holding the leash of Tango, who sits on an outside platform.

Tango, along with handler, Special Constable Will Ng, on patrol outside Union Station. (Metrolinx photo)

But it was, say officials, a real world example of the type of rapid cooperation that takes place among services, including the Toronto Police Service, as well as why Transit Safety has invested in their K9 unit.

“We were extremely proud of Tango and Will,” said Bill Grodzinski, Metrolinx’s director of Security. “It was our first true test and I am pleased to share a really successful one.”

Cam Cooper, Metrolinx’s supervisor for Security Operational Support added that to say everything went the way it was supposed to go, would be an understatement.

“The long training involved in detection work paid off,” he said. “Will did exactly how he was trained and it showed.

“I have no doubt that Tango picked up an odour. That is the tough part in dog handling – sometimes there are things that the handler can’t explain but having 100 per cent trust in the dog and the training is paramount.”

Want to see more on the dogs and handlers of Transit Safety’s K9 unit? Just click here.