Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Police Dog – theory AND practice

As I wrote yesterday, I met with the police dog handler for a city near where I live. We went to a coffee shop and he was nice enough to give me an hour of his time talking about his job, the training, the dog, and telling some good stories.

I try really hard in my B.C. police procedural series to get the policing right, but I don’t have any experience in law enforcement at all. I don’t trust TV or movies, and I can’t rely on the vast majority of books, which are British or American, to tell me how Canadian police operate. So I reply on real police officers to tell me.
They have been very, very generous with their time.

Anyway, back to yesterday. The main thing the police dog does is track. Track the path of a lost child or Alzheimer patient, search for a suspect who has fled the scene – on foot obviously. The training to get the dog to do that, and to stay on course once found and not be distracted is considerable. For both handler and dog, I might mention.

After learning all about the theory and training of police dogs, I went home. That evening by pure co-incidence, I had been invited for a ride-along by another police force. AND THE DOG WAS CALLED OUT.

Cool! The office shed at a salvage yard had been broken into. The dog arrived, with tactical support as is the norm. Because the dog is intent on the trail, and the handler is totally focused on the dog, they need someone to protect them if such is needed.

The patrol car I was riding in was assigned to set the perimeter. The point is to try to contain the suspect so that the dog can catch up to them. Set the parameter too narrow, and the suspect might be outside of it before it’s in place; set it too wide and the dog has too big of a trail to follow. So we sat in the woods, lights flashing red (you want the suspect to know you’re there and be frightened – creates a better scent) and watched as the dog and officers came out of the woods following the trail.

I’m sorry to say that the dog lost the trail but I was just thrilled to be able to watch him in action.

It was a good night. I can say that the curse of BatVicki has been broken. And as an added extra: A great scene just popped into my head. Want to see something spooky? Try a scrap yard at night. Throw in some swirling mist – and voila.

1 comment:

  1. Great blog, Vicki - I am a sucker for dogs with jobs. Handsome fella too.