Christine Spigai


MSA Security Firearms Detection Canine TeamWhen the “shots fired” call came through the radio from mall security dispatch, MSA Security® handler Justin Stein and his canine partner, Cigan, sprang into action. They immediately responded to the incident scene, working in collaboration with local first responders and on-site security personnel to secure the area and clear shoppers from the mall safely while law enforcement pursued the suspect. The team conducted a follow-up search through the mall, in which Cigan alerted on a trash can, recovering the gun tossed by the shooter following the incident.  


Active shooter attacks, workplace violence incidents and criminal gun violence are leading security concerns for organizations. MSA added Firearms Detection Canine Teams to its full suite of solutions last year to provide clients with an effective, versatile and dynamic tool to deter and detect concealed firearms in restricted areas. Vulnerable soft targets include schools, sports and entertainment venues, corporate campuses and shopping malls, like the one in Tennessee where Justin and Cigan are deployed. Justin is grateful for his three-year-old German Shepherd partner and credits him for a strong work ethic and infinite stamina. 


“Although it can be a challenging job, Cigan loves to go to work and never lets me down. He has an incredible nose. I trust that when he alerts, like that night after the shooting, there’s something to check into,” explains Justin.


All MSA canines are carefully selected from sporting breeds for their keen sense of smell, drive, intelligence and even temperament. This rigorous vetting translates into longer and more successful careers. MSA dogs are initially trained as Explosive Detection Canines, learning to detect all five families of commercial and military grade explosives, including gunpowder and homemade explosives. Dogs intended to deploy for firearms detection complete additional training to detect a range of odors associated with firearms, whether previously fired or static. Justin and Cigan received comprehensive firearms imprintation and training in Pennsylvania with MSA partner, Shallow Creek Kennels.


Justin welcomes a rigorous training program, which he believes results in better preparedness and success in the field just like his time in the military. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Firearms Detection Dog and His Handlerafter high school and served four years as an infantry rifleman. Following an extensive 26-week training program, he deployed on a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), a powerful, mobile force deployable from self-contained floating sea bases and designed for quick readiness and response to any crisis. Justin deployed to Japan, the Philippines, Thailand and Singapore while serving our country. Following military service, Justin worked as a security contractor overseas and then decided to pursue law enforcement.  He spent four years as a police officer in Alaska. “I am proud to have served my country and my community in these capacities, working alongside so many incredibly brave men and women. The skills and lessons learned were invaluable. Critical thinking, problem solving and de-escalation tactics were extremely useful in the military, as an officer and today, I continue to rely on these skills as a handler,” he explains.


Black German Shepherd Firearms Detection Canine at restFor all their hard work and dedication to keeping people safe each day, this duo is not shy about taking some well-deserved rest on their downtime. “Cigan is really playful. We enjoy getting outside to run around or go for a long walk. But truthfully his favorite thing to do at home is find a comfortable spot on the bed for a long nap!”  




Learn more about MSA Firearms Detection Canines.

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