Building Search Part III
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Suspect Building Search

Part Three - Making it real

By SMI Aycock


If you have been following the program we have been covering, you have had roughly two months worth of training to prepare for our current position, that’s about eight weeks, plenty of time to produce a solid dog for building searches.

In the first stage, which should have been worked for about four weeks, we developed a high prey drive and comfort in the dog’s security and confidence. In the second stage, which covered the past four weeks, we have developed the dogs search ability and alert to the suspect / decoy.

This month we will put it together and stretch our training to be as close as possible to a live, suspect search.

Make sure that your partner will scent and alert to a suspect who has been inside a building for one (1) hour. If you aren’t quite there, wait until you are before progressing to this next stage.

Lets go…

This training should be completed at night.

There are five stages here and you will find them easy in comparison to the previous work.

Stage 1. Conduct all pre-planning away from the building to be searched. This means call on the cell-phone, a parking lot, maybe the PD; Regardless, do not have a meeting with your decoy and then walk to the building for a search. There needs to be a one-hour (or longer) span between the dog seeing the decoy and actually searching. Phones are excellent because the handler can communicate his needs for training without the dog keying on the decoy. Thus, during the planning stage, the decoy is told where to go, how to enter, and how to react for the training - all without the handler being anywhere near the building.

The decoy arrives at the building and hides in a completely unknown location relative to the handler.

Stage 2. The handler arrives at the building and parks silent and short of the building itself (just like on the street). The handler has a backup officer respond also. The handler has absolutely no communication with the suspect inside the building. Instead, the handler and backup should walk off into the dark - as though conducting police business - allowing the dog to see them doing something other than sitting on the hood of the cars. Next, the handler should remove the dog and proceed with the breaking and prep for the search. The handler should then make way to the building - keeping in mind that this training must be realistic. The handler and backup must behave with stealth and caution while approaching the building to avoid being shot.

Stage 3. At the entrance of the building, the handler should make two announcements for persons inside to come out (see part four legal issues). The handler will then begin the search in the exact same fashion as previously - with one exception…the handler must keep his weapon drawn (empty, and clip removed, and triple checked by the backup), keep his head up, and rely solely on the dog for his scent source but never avoiding officer safety.

Stage 4. If the decoy can escape, following the dog’s initial search, he should. If the decoy has an opportunity to MOCK - assault the handler, he should. Paint weapons and such devices are great for this work. Only if the K9 locates and secures the decoy should the decoy submit to the search.

Stage 5. The decoy and handler should review the search in detail. If the decoy was able to escape, the handler must not give an easy bite to the dog. The dog must earn his rewards. If the handler is concerned that the dog did not win - the building search should be repeated at another location. Otherwise, the dog will have to work harder next time - maybe the handler too.

Should the search fail, the handler should consider taking a step back in training in efforts of developing the dog more slowly - until he is ready for this level.

Once the K9 team can complete numerous, consecutive searches, in many different locations, with positive finds and captures, the team will be ready for live searches.

See, it’s pretty easy once you’ve laid the framework and foundation.

Next time we will discuss the legal issues that are involved in training and live searches for suspect. In the meantime - try and get your dog ready for the street through some realistic training. Use your imagination - make it a challenge.


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