Search Dogs South


Scene Investigation

Guidelines For Law Enforcement Agencies

  • CALL AT ONCE, not as a last resort.
    Time is of the utmost importance.(i.e.,Suspect last seen on foot, eastbound, no vehicle seen, or child playing in front yard and now cannot be found). THIS IS THE TIME TO START A TRAILING UNIT. The unit can always be canceled, even en route, if subject is found.
    First officer on location, or rank, in accordance to department policy. If criminal, close off the escape route and keep roving patrols in a radius in accordance to the time element. A person has less chance to run any distance if they have to hide.
    Do not let officers, or onlookers, wait, or stand, near the scene and contaminate the area with scent, or destroy footprints, or evidence possibly dropped by the subject. Do not touch or handle any item the subject wore or handled.  Do not let any vehicle come straight to the scene. Turn off all vehicles in the area. Exhaust fumes make the dogs job more difficult.
    Have all known information ready for the handler and dog. (i.e., Foot-wear, clothing description, physical description of subject, point last seen, weapon, if any).
    If a vehicle is involved do not remove it from the scene until after K-9 Unit has arrived and cleared the removal of vehicle. If engine running, reach in (DO NOT get in vehicle) turn ignition off and remove the key. Close door and keep everyone away from vehicle.
    Have an officer who is familiar with the area available to assist the handler. The back-up officer should not try to influence the handler. The search needs to be conducted with as little distraction as possible as the handler needs to concentrate so as not to misread the dog’s behavior.
    If the person or suspect is located by others while the dog is still trailing, hold them until the dog can identify. (THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT.)

Scent Evidence – Why It Is Important To A Search

In the event a trailing dog is called for there are a few simple procedures to follow that will help make the search more successful. As scent material is key to any search, following these procedures at the scene can make the K9s job easier and contribute to a faster and more positive search. See Scent Evidence Collection for more information on the proper procedure for collecting scent evidence.

Scent material found at a crime scene can be used to:

  • Trail the subject from the scene of a crime.
  • It can be used as an investigative tool to check the whereabouts of a subject.
  • It can also be used to identify a subject in a line-up procedure.
  • In some cases, it can establish probable cause.

Scent material is the only piece of evidence that can:

  • Provide a direction away from a crime scene.
  • Provide a path to follow to search for other dropped or discarded items.
  • Take you to where footprints or tire prints may be collected.
  • Can actually take you to a subject and identify him/her