Police Officer's Guide to K9 Searches by Stephen A. MackenziePolice Officer's Guide to K9 Searches by Stephen A. Mackenzie

Police Officer's Guide to K9 Searches

byStephen A. Mackenzie

Paperback | January 1, 2009

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Modern police officers have an impressive number of tools at their disposal, all of which take some experience to deploy properly. Of all these tools, none is more mysterious and poorly understood than the dog. And while a K9 can be useful in subduing a suspect, 90 per cent of its work involves its nose, not its teeth.

This book helps officers outside the K9 unit understand the proper use of dogs in police investigations. Stephen Mackenzie describes the different situations in which a K9 can be helpful, how the dog functions during a search, and what officers can do before and during the search to maximize the chance of success. Each chapter includes a summary of important concepts.

Perfect as an introduction to the use of K9s for new police officers or as a quick reference for experienced veterans, this book is a valuable resource for every officer.

Dr. Stephen A. Mackenzie has been a deputy sheriff for more than 20 years and has been training and handling police service dogs for more than 30 years. A popular seminar instructor, he has testified in both criminal and civil cases as a court-recognized expert in animal behavior. He is currently a professor of animal science at the St...
Title:Police Officer's Guide to K9 SearchesFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:60 pages, 9.01 × 7.26 × 0.18 inShipping dimensions:9.01 × 7.26 × 0.18 inPublished:January 1, 2009Publisher:Brush EducationLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1550593765

ISBN - 13:9781550593761


Read from the Book

Chapter 1: Why Call a K9?Many officers think of K9s as tools that bite things. While it is true that dogs can and do bite people when necessary, the modern police dog spends most of its time searching, not biting. Some of them have no bite training at all and are still extremely valuable. This may seem strange to officers who remember the old style K9 who bit almost anything that moved, but the nature and use of the police dog has changed radically in recent years. There are still a few places in the inner cities where the old style dog is appreciated, but most officers prefer what we have come to call “approachable” dogs. These K9s are quite friendly when told to be and show aggression only when it is appropriate. Some dogs, such as Bloodhounds and certain retrievers, are routinely trained with no aggressive component toward humans and still offer many advantages to the officers in their departments.This is because 90% of a K9’s work involves its nose, not its teeth. The average officer should consider a dog an investigative tool, for that is its best use in most instances. The bite function is an important one, but not used half as much as the search function. Officers are frequently confronted with situations where they are searching for something that is difficult to find. Sometimes it is a person, sometimes evidence or contraband. That is when they should think of calling a K9, and a major reason all departments should have access to one. For thousands of years, dogs have been the masters of searching and finding things. While their food is mostly provided for them by humans now, the genetic desires to hunt and search have been maintained by breeders of working dogs. These genetic desires will push dogs to incredible performances which far outmatch anything humans are capable of. In short, dogs will find many things that humans, even large numbers of them, will miss. Whether it be tracking or trailing, searching areas for people, searching for dead bodies (or parts thereof), searching buildings for people, searching for evidence at a crime scene, searching for controlled substances, searching for explosives, searching for accelerants at a fire scene, or searching for the remains of poached or smuggled animals, dogs will find more things than you will, and they will do it in less time. Administrators should note that the savings in man hours per search are substantial when dogs are utilized.Even when a dog does not actually find something, it usually gives you more information than you had before you called it. This providing of information even when they don’t complete their task is what makes them such a wonderful investigative tool. For instance, tracking dogs do not always find the person they are tracking, but they usually give you the direction of travel the person took from the scene you are investigating which is often very helpful. One series of thefts was solved when the directions of the incomplete tracks from all the scenes pointed to one residential section of a city. Surveillance was set up, and soon the individual was apprehended coming home after his latest break-in complete with stolen property in a carry bag. Sometimes dogs track to a location on a street and lose the track completely. Good investigators know enough to start interviewing nearby residents to see if anyone saw a person get into a vehicle at that spot at the appropriate time. Often they get a description of the individual they were tracking, the type of vehicle he got into, and which direction he was headed when he left. Sometimes the person gets into a vehicle on an abandoned road where there are no witnesses, but he drops incriminating evidence along the track. You now have the key piece of physical evidence you would have missed if you hadn’t followed the track. In one case of alleged rape, the female victim claimed the perpetrator had exited the house out the back window and fled through the back yard. The yard was sealed off and the K9 called in. The dog could not find the track. Because of this, investigators persisted and eventually the woman told them that no rape had occurred and no one had climbed out the back window. She made up the story to keep her boyfriend from becoming angry when he realized someone else had impregnated her. The list could go on, but the point is clear. Dogs do not have to find what they start out searching for in order to be valuable. Good investigators use the information they provide to add to the pieces of the puzzle they must solve. In most cases, K9s are very helpful.The advantages you have when you ask a K9 to conduct a search for you are numerous. First, dogs are eager to work regardless of the time. For instance, they are just as eager to perform when you wake them up in the middle of the night as they are during their day shift. They don’t care if it is vacation time or a holiday. In some respects, they are the perfect employees since they always want to work, even when they don’t feel good.Second, dogs make no assumptions regarding where things or people “can’t be”: something human personnel are famous for. Human officers often search certain parts of the search area less well because they are convinced in their minds that the person or object they are searching for could not possibly be there. Dogs make no such assumptions.Third, dogs are not worried about getting their uniform dirty or torn. I am continually amazed at how much influence the condition of their uniform has on the mental processes of human officers during a search. They often skip over certain parts of the search area solely to preserve their uniforms. Looking sharp and professional is a benefit in most phases of police work, but it works against us during searches. In many instances, it is not possible to search well and stay clean and tidy at the same time. This gives the dog a big advantage.Fourth, dogs are not discouraged by difficult terrain. It is not unusual for an officer to be on his hands and knees crawling through brambles and briars for hours to search an area properly (particularly if evidence has been thrown into such an area). Even if he is not concerned with his uniform, he will soon become discouraged and stop searching as effectively. Criminals who do not wish to be located will deliberately go into difficult areas just to accomplish this. Frequently they are successful with human officers, but not with dogs. K9s love to run around in difficult terrain, and search just as effectively regardless of the lay of the land.Fifth, dogs do not have to see things to find them. Their noses give them the ability to search areas they cannot see into. For instance, they do not have to open doors to search cabinets during a search for hidden explosives, which is a major advantage when it comes to booby traps. When searching for hidden assailants, they can detect them before they spring out of hiding to attack. Their noses also give them the ability to search well in the dark without the need for flashlights, a major tactical advantage.Sixth, when searching for fleeing suspects, they put so much mental pressure on the suspect that he will often make a mistake, which makes it easier for someone else to catch him—even when the dog does not make contact with him. Captured suspects often claim that they could think of little else except getting away from the dog, which eventually pressured them into making their critical error, resulting in their capture.Lastly, they search well in gas environments. The irritants in CS, CN, and OC are more effectively flushed out of the canine eyes and nose than they are from humans. This makes them very useful in many tactical situations.Experienced K9 handlers can probably add to this list, but it is sufficient to make the point. K9s offer so many advantages that unless there are strong reasons for not using them, officers should always call for dogs when they have a search which is appropriate for them.Which brings up the question: what type of searches are appropriate for dogs? The following chapters will attempt to describe the common scenarios in which dogs have proven themselves useful and offer some advice on how to set up the situation to maximize their performance. Following these suggestions will provide officers with either the person or object they are seeking, or the maximum amount of information possible regarding their situation. And in most cases, information is a powerful ally.

Table of Contents

1. Why call a K9?
2. Tracking and trailing dogs
3. Air scenting (area search) dogs
4. Evidence recovery dogs
5. Building search dogs
6. Human remains detection dogs
7. Narcotic detection dogs
8. Explosive detection dogs
9. Accelerant detection dogs
10. Wildlife detection dogs
11. Quick reference