Dr. Lisa T. Briggs has served many years in the applied field, is a criminologist, an active K-9 trainer and handler and is the Director of the Cadaver K9 Training Facility at Western Carolina University. As the lead instructor for the WCU HRD K9 training program, Edwin Grant brings a long-standing career in law enforcement and has trained and handled almost all specializations of K-9s, including bomb, tracking, trailing and air scent. For the last decade plus, Edwin and Lisa have teamed together in the area of HRD K-9s.

Edwin and Lisa are search and recovery specialists for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and utilize K-9s in most of their work with active cases. They are also on the Department of Homeland Security Reunification Team and both have law enforcement K-9s and are a part of the State Bureau of Investigations HRD K9 Task Force. They deploy all over the country, as well as outside of the United States, and they are eager to share some of their lessons learned (many the hard way) with those interested in the discipline.

Class: Human Remains Detection K-9s: Lessons Learned

With over 50 combined years of experience in law enforcement, criminal justice and specifically missing person’s recovery, Dr. Lisa Briggs and Officer Edwin Grant bring a wealth of knowledge to discussions through “lessons learned” from training and deployments in the specialization of human remains recovery with the use of detection K9s. The two are raising awareness of weakness in the field and make a ‘call out’ to law enforcement K-9 handlers to consider the challenging, but rewarding, work in a fairly new discipline – that until recently was manned only by volunteers. Their presentation will also include K-9 and handler tips and strategies.


The National Institute of Justice reports that on any given day, there are as many as 100,000 active missing person cases in the United States (Ritter, 2007). People go missing, and efforts are necessary to locate those individuals-hopefully alive; but in the event that the victim perished, their body still needs to be recovered.  Those struggles are only exacerbated when the victim is located in water, and since 70% of the earth’s surface is covered by water, the probability is increased that aquatic searches are evident. When water is a factor in missing person cases, the search becomes intensely more difficult.  Due to water currents and conditions, increased variability of human decomposition, and limited resources and equipment, the investigation and recovery of missing persons is compounded.  Dr. Briggs and Edwin Grant will cover how these variables affect the use of scent detection K9s in the recovery of human remains.