K9 Containment Techniques For Patrol
On a cold winters night early last year I was on routine patrol and observed a car leave from the rear of a commercial property shortly after midnight. It was obvious they were in a hurry. I pulled into the rear of the property and noted that it had been burglarized. I immediately pulled out onto the roadway in pursuit of the vehicle. A short pursuit ensued and as we neared a dead end area, the suspect vehicle slowed momentarily and two suspects jumped out of the moving vehicle, fleeing into a residential area. I kept following the vehicle as it continued another 3 blocks into a dead end and arrested the driver. Burglary tools were found in the car and there was sufficient grounds to pursue the two suspects that had bailed out.
We were short on cars that night and we had one suspect in custody so when I returned to deploy my dog, it was not unusual to find myself alone working the track without a backup and with no containment cars around to assist me. As I started to track, I was sure the two suspects would not go far and that I would have little difficulty in locating them. Initially one officer did his best to do some perimeter containment once I got a direction of travel, however time had taken its toll, and we were starting almost fifteen minutes behind the suspects.
As the track progressed we went over many fences, and through many yards. Up and down a deep ravine, through a creek and along a railway line. As time progressed the track proceeded about 2 miles and crossed from my jurisdiction into the neighboring municipality. The dog was very intense on the track and as we progressed, more and more patrol units started to make themselves available to assist me with containment. The jurisdiction I was now tracking through provided cars and our own patrol members were now available to set up in quadrants. It was at this point that Cpl. Rick Franson came across the radio about 2 blocks from my location stating that a suspect was fleeing from him. A foot pursuit ensued from that location with the suspect running from one point to another point, only to keep running into containment units and turning back. As I closed in to assist the suspect ran out of a yard and was tackled by an R.C.M.P. officer who had come to assist with containment. The track had extended for over 5 miles, and we had crossed over some 15 fences. The third suspect was never apprehended.
In this case, I could easily have tracked all night without ever catching up to the suspects. With the lead time they had, and the time it takes the dog to work the track at his pace as well as the time involved in getting the dog and handler over various obstacles, all the suspects had to do to evade capture was to keep moving at a steady pace. Not necessarily a fast pace, just a steady pace. It was the containment team that picked this suspect up, combined with the efforts of the K9 team, this incident had a very successful conclusion. But that conclusion only came after a dedicated effort at containment by patrol members. Without the patrol officers doing their job I could likely have never caught up to the suspects. Had we had proper containment available initially we very likely could have reduced the length of the track substantially and possibly been successful in apprehending the third suspect.