By: Eloise Walton
ACROSS PORTUGAL, the Guarda Nacional Republicana (GNR) celebrated their 96th birthday on May 3. The GNR institution began in 1911 as a military security force.
Celebrations on this day included a military parade in the Praça do Império in Lisbon, which was presided over by the Prime Minister José Sócrates as well as other high placed civilians and military personnel.
In the Algarve, the event was celebrated by the Albufeira GNR with a special demonstration in the car park opposite the Court house, from 9.30am to 6pm. The event was well attended by the many smiling faces and curious hands of schoolchildren from around the Albufeira primary schools.
This is the first year of a new initiative by the Albufeira Division. “If we have all these resources, why not show them off to the public and demonstrate that we are an integral and approachable part of the community,” said the Commander of the Albufeira GNR José Rodrigues.
Every department of the Albufeira GNR was represented at the exhibition. The canine department of the GNR of Portimão and Albufeira put on two dog shows to the delight and applause of all the children and adults present. The audience was amazed both by the dogs’ obedience and their enjoyment of the work they do.
Contrary to popular belief, sniffer dogs are not trained using actual drugs, but instead the smell of the drug is used in a special toy for them to find during training. The dogs can identify a large number of substances and are rewarded after the correct identification of an illegal substance with an odorless toy.
The two breeds of dogs mostly used by the GNR are German Shepherds, used often for patrols and public order, and retriever Labradors used for searching for missing persons and illegal substances.
Other departments included the department for the protection of nature and the environment, the fiscal brigade, the safe schooling nucleus and the territorial department.
All of the children present were encouraged to ask questions, pet the animals, enter the GNR vehicles which included; bicycles, cars, off road vehicles and motorbikes, and take a ride on a horse! Music was played throughout the day giving a relaxed and inviting atmosphere to the event.
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