Courtney Lee has always loved animals, and dogs in particular. So when she became interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement, her goal of becoming a dog handler seemed a natural fit.
Courtney currently works for Securiguard at Vancouver International Airport as a handler for her canine partner, Diesel, who specializes in explosives detection.
She’s well on her way to achieving the career path of her dreams and she says it’s all thanks to the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC), where she graduated from the Law Enforcement Studies Diploma (LESD) program.
“I decided to take JIBC’s LESD program because it was the only program I could find that offered more of a hands-on approach, and I thought that it would be valuable life experience,” Courtney said.
“I liked the program because it was a different approach to learning. The instructors were mostly ex-law enforcement officers and were able to offer hands-on experience. The courses were truly unique and offered information that students would not normally get, as well as experiences that no other schools offered, like the defensive driving course, applied law, and many others.”
The courses were truly unique and offered information that students would not normally get, as well as experiences that no other schools offered
It was at a career fair at JIBC where she learned about the career opportunities available at Securiguard. She had no prior experience working in the security industry but spent time volunteering with the company’s K-9 unit on its training days. The company hired her and eventually she was assigned to the K-9 unit and teamed up with Diesel.
“I use my JIBC training every day, whether it's conflict management, note taking, report writing, or even public speaking. When I began working for Securiguard I worked with a patrol K-9 in the Downtown Eastside and I would often face confrontational individuals. Because of my conflict management training at JIBC I felt I was better prepared to deal with situations where I normally would not have been comfortable. Being a K-9 handler often means advocating for your canine partner, and I feel the LESD program helped prepare me to be confident and assertive when speaking to the public.”
At the airport, Courtney and Diesel are responsible for checking all unattended items and vehicles, as well as any suspicious items. They patrol the public and restricted areas of the airport to act as a visual presence and to proactively search among passengers and luggage.
She is grateful for the chance to work with Diesel who she has helped train since he first arrived from Europe as a puppy and who she considers not only her partner but her best friend.
“I am always reminded of how far hard work and dedication can get you. Diesel used to not even know how to lie down, whereas now I can get him to do almost anything; and he’s also now one of if not the best detection dog in our entire unit. It serves as a reminder of how rewarding my work is, to see how a young puppy can turn into an amazing working dog.”
Applications are now being accepted for the next intake of the Law Enforcement Studies Diploma program. For more information, visit the LESD program page.