K-9 Unit Training at Chesterfield's Storage Masters 3

Storage and Stopping Crime

Two-legged clients bring a lot of valuables to “sit and stay” at the Storage Masters business in Chesterfield valley. Some special four-legged visitors are not only honing their law enforcement skills but using their presence to deter any possible illegal activities at the facility—located at  16824 Chesterfield Airport Road.

Brian Wofford, operations manager for Storage Masters, recently starting working with local police to allow K9 unit/police dog training at his facility.

Wofford says he originally heard online about another storage business in California advertising that K9 training was taking place on site.

“I thought that was interesting,” Woffard says, though adding he had no idea on how to get such a plan going locally at his business.  He had recently joined the West St. Louis County Chamber of Commerce, where he wound up making a canine connection, entirely through a happy accident.

“The chamber is one of the best professional organizations I’ve dealt with,” Wofford says. “And during a chamber luncheon I went to, I started talking about this K9 training with some people, including Lori Kelling, the chamber president.  Lori said her husband Brad is involved in doing a lot of K9 training for the area, and she put me in touch with him.”

Sgt. Brad Kelling works as K9 unit supervisor with St. Louis County Police.

“We’re always looking for new businesses and other places to train the dogs – we have no one dedicated training location, so the dogs don’t get used to one place,” Kelling says.

Wofford offered all three of his St. Louis area Storage Masters facilities but the Chesterfield valley site wound up being the most convenient.

The dogs came to Storage Masters for the first time a couple months ago, Kelling says. “Our K9 training group includes 10 to 20 dogs, with handlers, from St. Louis County Police as well as police departments in Pacific, Woodson Terrace, Ferguson, Eureka, and even as far away as Fredericktown and Ste. Genevieve County. We do training every Tuesday for eight hours, switching between locations. It includes training on basic obedience, narcotic detection, area and article search, building search, suspect apprehension, and so on.”

Wofford says he was impressed that various breeds of K9s are used. “I think we had about 15 dogs out at the Chesterfield valley location. They also had a bomb dog that came out. All the dogs get a chance to do different things. For instance, they’ll hide things in different spots, and, when the dog alerts on an item, their reward is a toy to play with.”

Wofford says the Storage Masters site includes a variety of different places to hide things. “We have cars, boats, RVs and more for the police to use. The dogs don’t go into storage lockers unless the lockers are empty.”

For Wofford, it’s not just interesting for him to watch the training to take place.

“Our local police officers have been going through a lot lately, so anything we can do to help with training, to do something to make things easier for them and so they know we support them, is something we definitely want to do,” he says.

He’s impressed at the dedication of the dog handlers.

“Officers live with the dogs 24 hours a day,” Wofford explains. “The dogs work about 10 years and then, when they get too old, they let the officers keep the dogs.”

The situation is an ongoing benefit for Wofford’s business.

“Seeing the dogs here lets customers – including families with kids – know they’re safe here,” he says. “Also, it lets people know that, if they’re thinking of doing anything illegal and funny, they need to go someplace else, because we don’t want that in Chesterfield.”

Wofford loves just having the dogs on the property.

“I’ve stayed and watched the training, and I think the officers have gotten tired of me asking questions and taking photos,” he says. Plus, the effort is an investment in his family’s future. “My 16-year-old daughter Ashli, a junior in high school, wants to be a police officer someday. She’s been able to meet officers, including female officers, and gotten to pet the dogs and learn how great a police officer’s job is.”

Kelling expects the K9 training will take place at Storage Masters likely on a monthly basis.

“With all the unlimited areas to hide in and move people around to and large location with a lot of odors and scents, Storage Masters is a good challenge to the dogs,” he says. “Support from the public is what makes our job possible, so we’re always looking for new places like this to train the dogs. When a business steps up and lets us come there to train, it’s invaluable, and everybody benefits. For example, the public sees we’re there and police can be a deterrent to any illegal activities.”

The K9 dogs – including German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers – have also been involved in training at the Chesterfield Sports Fusion laser tag facility on Long Road, as well as St. Louis County’s Faust Park in Chesterfield, Kelling says. “It’s great to have cooperation from places like that.”

Anyone interested in allowing police K9 training to take place at their business can contact Kelling at bkelling@stlouisco.com.