Back on the Street with the K9’s

After a few weeks of getting reacquainted with the K9 Unit’s handlers and dogs, I am back in the swing. Cleaning up a year’s worth of administrative backlog, I un-assed myself from the desk and hit the street. Last night, I ran lights and siren to a foot chase involving one of the shift officers. He had interrupted a mobile check cashing scheme at a cash advance place. The felonious utterer took flight. The officer lost the bad guy in a…wait for it…mobile home park (Welcome to Florida).

The K9 had just deployed and I had a visual, so I exited the CVPI and tagged along. Sometimes a near zero time lapse can be more difficult than a track that has “settled down” for a few minutes. The dog team was still working out the start. The three of us area checked in the MHP east of a stockade fence which separated the park from a neighboring subdivision. Patrol had quickly locked down the area with a tight perimeter, so we were certain the runner was contained within a few blocks.

I have been out on K9 training nights for the last five weeks, trailing the dogs and handlers and also taking my turn as tracklayer. The dogs pay no attention to the added distraction of an experienced back-up. I had been out on many live calls with these guys when I had previously supervised them for a few years.

The handler and I could both see his dog indicating there was some residual odor, but we were not on it. The handlers call the shots when I trail them. My job is cover. But we were both thinking the same thing when the handler said we should work the opposite side of the fence line. A helicopter arrived for air support and began their orbit. We stopped for a second to switch radio freqs. I had to get out my reading glasses to do it. Damnable aging.

The handler made a “self-made opening” in a wood fence and we all jumped through. Now we were in the residential back yards of the sub-D. We went north along the fences, with the dog casting back and forth. This particular K9 is jet black, so he can be a bit hard to spot in the dark, but we had no trouble picking up his head turn and lunge toward a large stand of bamboo at the rear of one yard.

Crashing into the bamboo thicket, the dog lasered in on the suspect, who made a move to run, which resulted in a dog bite to the leg. Escape attempt foiled! “Gimme a light, Sarge!” the handler barked. I illuminated the bad guy. He complied with commands from the handler, who pulled the dog back. I moved in to handcuff the vocal, but now passive prisoner. He complained of excruciating pain, but I took a look and said, frankly, I’ve had worse, so get up. Other officers arrived and we walked the suspect to a waiting med crew.

Post-Miranda, the guy told us he had been riding around with two other dudes, who were making fake checks and pay stubs in the back of their van. For his trouble, his cut for cashing the checks was a Benjamin. After throwing up once and wincing in agony over his lightly lacerated calf, he said, “That wasn’t worth the hundred bucks…” Well said.

Later in the morning, I went home tired, a little overheated, and sporting a dirty uniform, but I was content inside with refreshed memories of my own past K9 adventures.  I was also very proud of our current K9 Unit, who had notched three drug finds and this tracking catch during the work week.


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