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Never Stop Chasing

by Certified Trainer Sgt. Adam Slater


I have found one of the best ways to keep your dog and yourself engaged and motivated is to be used on live deployments.  It’s always inherently more exciting to deploy on a live call then conduct training (which is also important and needed).

Where Odin and I have been very successful is, looking for the next live deployment and not letting it find us.  What this means is, when a track is available to take the opportunity to give your canine the chance to be successful.  Does this mean you will always find someone? Absolutely not.  But it does allow the canine to follow the scent of a suspect.  That hot PH scent which is impossible to simulate in training. 

Now above I mention, “When a track is available.”  You may be saying….Why wouldn’t the Officer on the scene simply call for a canine? For the answer to this question, you have to think outside the box when looking for these tracks as many are not what your fellow officers would see as a clear cut canine track.  What kinds of calls are we talking about here?  The (Cold) burglary which has occurred sometime today. The stolen vehicle has been located without anyone in or around.  The ongoing criminal trespass when the route of the suspect(s) is not known.  Assisting Parole and Probation when clients run from supervision checks. Search and Rescue applications and building searches normally performed by officers on the several alarm calls we receive to name a few.

I understand we all have policies on when we can deploy a canine to track and I would always advise you to follow your policy first and foremost.  However, if you remember in the ASCT basic manual one of the first things it states when speaking of tracking with a canine is, “You do not need any Probable Cause (PC) to track.”  This is true and as long as you know your canine partner and your policy allows it, take advantage of this. Use your canine whenever you can.  

I have tracked from several (Cold burglaries) on my own initiative (Not being asked) and located where hordes of stolen property were stashed in heavy brush to be retrieved later by the suspect(s).  One of these cases even allowed us to capture the thieves by surveilling the area where the property was stashed.  Now that’s not a direct person find, but what is it folks?  That’s right a successful track and ultimately a capture.  It also creates what I like to call a PPC (Positive Police Contact).  Trust me not only is the public happy to have the items taken back, but they are also now your canine’s biggest supporter. 

I have tracked from stolen vehicles ditched at a location.  The officer who located the vehicle told me there was no need to try a track because it had been at the location for over two hours.  I used my canine to track anyways and we tracked to a residence a short distance away from where the suspect was located inside.  I have also located suspect identification information in backpacks and wallets which my canine has alerted to when tracking from these vehicles. 

We have been used for a series of criminal trespass calls to determine where the suspect was accessing a facility being broke into.  We were then able to put out surveillance equipment and identify several of the suspects.

Your local probation officers are a great source for canine deployments.  Several times these are serious offenders they are checking on who is in violation of their probation or parole and guess what? Yep they like to flee on foot.   It is simple, just let your local probation department know you are willing to assist with compliance checks.  Most of the time, the only reason the compliance check is being initiated is that the person on probation or parole is out of compliance. 

Assisting search and rescue is a big source of potential live applications.  Again for this type of work you need to know your canine and their demeanor or possibly track with a muzzle on.  Your canine is highly trained and when the concept is finding hurt or missing people what better resource than a tracking canine.  I have had very good success with this. 

The last one we are going to touch on is building searches.  How many times during shift do you hear an alarm call come out for a building or even a residence?  Obviously, we need to do our job and ensure it is a true alarm, meaning no one home or business is closed and empty.  This is a great chance for you to use your canine!  I have cleared hundreds of buildings and homes during my career as a law enforcement officer without the use of a canine.  Guess what?  We teach our canines to do that folks.  It should be part of your weekly maintenance training.  Instead of clearing these building by ourselves, use it as an opportunity to conduct a building search with your canine.  99.9% of the time they will be empty and nothing is gained or lost.  But guess what folks? That was just a live application.  Then while you have your cover officer at the location you should attempt to place them (as a decoy) inside the building and conduct a training building search with a bite.  What did you accomplish here?  The canine got a live deployment and the building was secure.  Then you got to train in a new building (Novel environment) and have a successful deployment with high value added to the search for the canine!

Don’t be afraid to go looking for the next live deployment.  Stay engaged with other officers and assist where ever you can.  It will pay awesome dividends for you, your canine and officers you work within the long term and you will the first person they call when a canine is needed for the task at hand!  Never stop looking for the next live deployment!