Building Search Techniques – Safely Conducting K9 Building Searches
Conducting building searches with a police dog can be one of the most dangerous aspects of working as a police k9 handler. Employing some specific building search techniques will allow you to have more control of the situation; you can conduct searches more safely and more effectively. Traditionally, police dogs have searched buildings for suspects off-leash, regardless of the size or type of building. Searching buildings off-leash has some serious disadvantages.
Off leash building search techniques often require police officers to pass by areas that have not been cleared in order to assist their dog or manage a suspect in the building. Working off-leash also creates safety issues for the arrest team and backup officers that are assisting the k9 handler. Another disadvantage is that the dog may become injured or even killed. For example, a police dog named Rocky of the Niagara County Sheriff’s Department in New York fell 60 feet to his death while pursuing a burglary suspect. In another case, a police dog, days away from retirement, named Boz fell from a rooftop while searching, off-leash, for a burglary suspect. Most recently,a Secret Service dog fell to his death while working a detail in New Orleans to clear a building where Vice President Joe Biden was speaking.
One of the most effective building search techniques is the clear, down, and cover method. This method can easily be employed with the use of a 60-foot, or more, nylon long-line to create a search that is safer for the dog, the handler, and the arrest team. The fundamentals behind the clear, down, and cover method are relatively simple and straightforward but should be practiced prior to using it in field environments.
First, the dog (working on a long-line) is allowed to CLEAR a certain section of the building that is directly in front of the handler, while the handler and arrest team wait outside. This ensures that the direct area leading into the building is clear and that the handler and arrest team will be able to move in safely.
Once the area is clear, the dog is placed in a DOWN at the end of the long-line. The handler will wait several seconds with the dog in this position. This allows the dog to be positioned furthest away from the handler, closest to any possible suspect and places him in an area of the building that will allow him to hear and respond to any movement inside the building.
Next, the handler and arrest team will move to a new position of COVER inside the building. The process starts again with the dog clearing approximately 60 feet, or so, in front of the handler, while the handler and arrest team are located in a safe position that has previously been cleared.
By having the dog learn to work on a long line and employing the clear, down, and cover building search technique, you can create a safe and effective strategy for searching buildings for suspects. By having the dog on a long-line we eliminate the risk that the dog will immediately run to the back of the building, encounter a suspect and force the team to pass through a building that has not been cleared to handle the dog and suspect. We will also have more control of the dog and even have a “safety net” in the event that the dog falls through a window, door, or elevator shaft. This building search technique will often make the arrest team more comfortable knowing that the dog is not loose inside the building and will allow them to focus more on their respective positions and assignments. If a suspect is encountered, he or she can be pulled, with the long-line, back to the position of cover where the arrest team can manage them as opposed to exposing the team to deal with the suspect elsewhere.
If you are interested in learning more about building search techniques with police dogs or want more information about training police dogs as a career, feel free to call us at 866.200.2207 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.