I was on a tracking mission on Tuesday where everything fell together perfectly.
Over the years as a tracker I have tracked many cases for SAR & Law
Enforcement and each case is unique,
and a learning experience. This
particular mission was one of the more ideal tracking experiences I have
First a little background..
Our SAR commander has been trying to promote tracking to the Patrol side of the
Sheriffs Office. I have tracked
many cases with the homicide department and trained SWAT sniper teams in basic
tracking as both groups use tracking readily. I
am a commissioned Police Officer with a small city which allows me the
opportunity to track fugitives and other dangerous lines of sign for the
Sheriffs Office. Whenever I track with Law Enforcement there seems to be more
pressure than on a SAR mission. A number of officers are trained as
trackers through other schools, and some just believe they are trackers without
any formal training. My UTS training
seems to be under scrutiny as a slow Step-by-Step method based on sources other
than UTS trackers. If I had to give
a tracking Sales Pitch this was the one.
I responded to a call from our Sergeant to track a despondent young man who
stole his dads shotgun and headed off to the woods to never be seen
again according to a note left by the subject. I
met the helicopter at our base and we flew into the area where I met up with a
team of deputies and we started our mission. A
few days after the mission I was informed that the subject was indeed going to
kill himself, and contemplated shooting one of us.
We landed on location at 1550 hrs. and we had the subject in custody by 1650
hrs. That time included the
interrogation with the RP at the airport, driving to the residence, clearing the
residence and securing the property and starting my tracking operation. I
had never worked with the deputies assigned to the over-watch team that was
backing me up and neither had the Sergeant who was in charge in the field.
The team did exactly what the Sergeant asked them to do and they fully complied
with my directions.
After the team cleared the residence and secured the property, I started at the
front of the house and followed the subjects sign through the backyard and out
to a gravel road. I found the
distinctive sole of the boys boot and found a clear direction of travel on a
gravel road. I was moving at a steady pace in the direction of travel for
several hundred yards without seeing any good sign. I
was seeing sign made prior to and after the subjects passing.
The subject was walking in the tracks where vehicles were driving but
I knew he hadnt left the road. Just as I was going to call it
off, I located the next print and was able to easily follow the tracks at a walk
brisk enough to have our Sergeant curse me for moving too quickly. I was
on and off several times, each time quickly recovering the sign. The times
I was off, I was happy to find that every place I chose to make the cut yielded
a good track. The first evidence I
recovered was the shotgun scabbard discarded in the ditch about a half-mile
further. I cut where he left the
road into a clear-cut and I found that he had discarded a box of 12 gauge slugs,
known to penetrate body armor. A few minutes later the subject fired a
shot. I continued to track the
subject at a quick pace, thinking he committed suicide. We made verbal
contact with him and had him in custody. A few days later we went back to
the scene to piece the rest of the story together.
This mission was a real eye opener for the deputies who
worked with The Sergeant and me. They were ecstatic and had never seen an
operation go so smoothly and quickly. They told me that they thought they
were capable of tracking until they tried seeing the sign I was pointing out on
our double-time walk. In
reality they could have seen everything I saw if I took the time to stop and
show them the specifics. They thought that I had to go slowly
step-by-step. I informed them that we did go step by step but very quickly
and that we didnt need to identify each and every step.
If we hadnt gone step-by-step we would have missed most of the
evidence we collected. I gave them a few tips and they now know and
believe that tracking on asphalt is possible for a seasoned tracker.
I turned in a report, both a hard copy and a computer version. The
computer allowed my report to be sent to everyone from the Lt. down to the
patrol deputies who were on the team. The
quality of the report will keep the success of this mission on the minds of the
Sergeant, Deputies and Lieutenant involved as value added paperwork for his
case. My past reports have solidified my reputation as a tracker, and have
documented my involvement in tracking missions, which in turn has perpetuated my
involvement in future cases. It
seems to snowball.
It has been the overall teamwork and the quality of training provided by UTS
which I give credit to in training me to save this boys life. I thank each
and every member of the UTS staff for their dedication to providing the best
tracking training in the world. I have helped teach tracking classes
taught by other schools and I have looked into every tracking program that is
known to exist, and UTS is clearly the best. The staff at UTS has been
steady and teaching longer than any other tracking school. What
keeps me coming back to UTS training, besides the friendships, is the way the
school continually grows in the way it teaches tracking. I
am loyal to my friendships, however my bottom line goal is to be the best
tracker that I can be to help save lives, be it the subject, team, or the
community, and I continue to endorse UTS to provide that quality of training as
you have for the past 14 years.
Thanks to all at UTS....