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IFD, IMPD use arson canine units to help sniff out accelerants at potential crime scenes

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 1, 2015)-- The Indianapolis Fire Department (IFD) and Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) responded to 70 fires that were intentionally set in 2014. These fires caused thousands of dollars in damage to property around the city.

This year, IMPD and IFD are using National Arson Awareness Week to inform the public about arson, a crime that officials say can happen anywhere.

Investigators say arson fires can be very difficult cases for investigators, because the evidence is usually destroyed by the flames. To help with the investigations, the IFD and IMPD arson investigation teams use two accelerant-detecting dogs when searching a potential crime scene for clues.

The dogs use their strong sense of smell to find the source of the accelerant at the scene of the fire and help investigators determine if the flames were set deliberately.

“The dog's noses are better than our noses and it is all about their noses. It is not about their ears or their eyes, it is about using their noses to locate that source odor and giving us a behavior change so that we can figure out that is where it is at,” says Greg Stewart, a member of the IMPD canine unit.

These highly trained and skilled arson dogs cost tens of thousands of dollars to train. IMPD says it still saves the department money and critical time by finding potential evidence quickly, like whether gasoline or kerosene was used.

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