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Discussion Starter #1
Bob Scott said:
Unless you work as an indipendent (you have the connections), SAR will only frustrate you because of all the incompetent wannabys out there.
I've heard references like this before to the kooks...are you talking about people that sit at home with police scanners and run to a site? With untrained dogs, and themselves poorly trained? That's what I always assumed you were talking about but I figured I'd better ask.

Why wouldn't there be serious (criminal) penalties for these kinds of folks? I don't know anything about the SAR community, this is not a knock on them, but I guess I would have thought a negligent, uninvited, inexperienced guy with a dog that disturbed a crime scene (or slowed down an investigation) would be a candidate for the cooler.

Not that straightforward, I guess?
 

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<<<I would have thought a negligent, uninvited, inexperienced guy with a dog that disturbed a crime scene (or slowed down an investigation) would be a candidate for the cooler.>>>

You have to look at search and rescue in different ways. For example, entry into a crime scene is very controlled, once it's been identified as a crime scene. Each person that enters a crime scene has to be documented and may be part of any chain-of-custody discussion as a case unfolds. For that reason, generally only law enforcement and in certain instances preapproved civilians only will be granted access. Just being a uniformed officer at a crime scene does not automatically grant access. Where the problems can exist is for missing persons. Often times volunteers, albeit well meaning in most cases, can show up to assist, but often times do nothing more than get in the way. The last thing I want to do is speak disparingly about those that volunteer thier services in a search and rescue mission. The fact is, there are times when, without any type of command structure, or accountability volunteers can be a hinderance. Egos, politics all certainly play a role in such situations.

DFrost
 

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In the past 10 or so years, in particular since 911 and Oklahoma, SAR has become quite popular. To many people want to get on the bad wagon for many different reasons. The least of which is having the right dog to do the job.
Yes, there are many "teams" that sit out there with scanners and just show up. Many smaller LE depts aren't familiar with what qualifications are needed, and often welcome thes individuals with open arms.
I belonged to one of the most prominat teams in my state. We were on call 24/7 but ONLY went with LE invitation. Because of our reputation with the FBI, Highway Patrol, etc, we had 40-50 call outs a year in the 3 yrs I was a part of that team.
The team was started 10yrs ago by a firefighter that had a fantastic dog that was trained in Quantico Va. Unfortunately, when this dog died, the handler decided he was an expert dog trainer. He never trained one dog on his own.
Look up Sandy Anderson on Ed's search forum. You'll see a perfect example of this big SAR problem. EGO that over rides common sense!
Another huge problem is the do gooders that have a dog that may be able to find it's toy on command. They decide to save the world and start/join SAR.
The bottom line is a lack of standards. Even the teams with standards aren't accountble to anyone but themselves.
A few states have great standards, but as a rule, it's up to the individual teams to be responsable.
There are some great teams out there.....but!
 

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David, thanks for the much better explination then mine. My frustration of the incompitence out ther get the best of me sometimes. :wink:
 

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I think the point that EGO and POLITICS get in the way are very frustrating but sadly true. Sometimes people loose sight that this is about the victim and their family - NOT showcasing the dogs.

I am on a team working to develop a credible presence and it may take years to do so by having standards (sorry our state has none - the idea of volunteer SAR is not even well established yet), bringing in outside trainers, etc. and by not showing up at scenes without LE invite, etc. We have worked very hard with some of the other teams in our state to develop good relationships and mutual support and I think it CAN be done but requires constant vigilance. I have seen the ugly politics firsthand though in neighboring states and know we are not immune.

I can see the point of an individual joining up with LE as a reserve officer to serve in that capacity but what is required to do so varies greatly from state to state. I do believe there is value in teams though if you want to participate in ANY quantity of callouts you almost have to be on one.

Personally, I think LIABILITY insurance (team - our biggest expense by far), standards and training in crime scene preservation, clue consciousness, search strategy, etc are all extremely important. In the abscence of state standards, there are national standards that can be used to demonstrate some level of proficiency.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Bob Scott said:
The bottom line is a lack of standards. Even the teams with standards aren't accountble to anyone but themselves.
A few states have great standards, but as a rule, it's up to the individual teams to be responsable.
There are some great teams out there.....but!
I just always here about the tin-foil hat "Silence of the Lambs" psychics that get out there on behalf of the family, etc. and it must be annoying as hell for investigators. Too bad. I wonder what the profile of your average police scanner buyer looks like? :eek:

Yeah, I was in OKC that day, drove by the bldg while it was still smoking. You are right, the efforts there had a profound impact on those of us watching that situation over the next few days. I had forgotten about that, all the really horrible SAR stuff that came out (I mean horrible in that they kept finding bodies and and live folks over many days, it seems like). Man, what a sad time that was.

SAR is definitely an inspirational and noble thing but it would not be something I'd ever take on out of the gates with my first working dog and without a lot of group support like you describe.
 

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I went to a seminar yesterday. A speaker, that shall remain nameless was touting the proficiency of his dog at detecting blood. I can see a need for that in the area of forensics etc. The seminar was going good and fundamentally, I was agreeing with his training procedures. All was good until he made one comment. The comment was (not verbatim) a gold watch, that was on the wrist of a homicide victim, after being professionally cleaned at least twice was identified by the blood detector dog; AFTER, 32 (thirtytwo) years. Woody, I need that "tinfoil" hat you spoke about.

Not wishing to engage in an arguement or lengthy discussion at a seminar, my only comment was; I guess I'll have to be from Missouri on this one, Show Me.

DFrost
 

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After 911 the fraudulent individuals in detection & sar increased. I have seen this first hand. Last year I was at New York City with a private security company doing a demo with passive alert dogs at the Bear Foundation SAR (Scott Shields) Note this is a huge event thousands of people and teams attend. I had paid 500.00 for my spot on the aircraft carrier Intrepid but my self and a number of other vendors were not on the list although are checks had been cashed. Anyway the security company owner who I was with contacted Scott and he quickly took care of we ended up parked along side of him. He spoke with me several times during day and I can assure you "You didnt have to know much about SAR to quickly observe he was a fraud". others police, military, sar teams had the same opinion. The part I found hard to believe that he was getting away with it in such a large scale. His dog bit another dog directly across from us (was clearly aggressive to other K-9,s). I see the fraud has been now shut down which is great but this is a huge Black Eye :oops: for the legitment SAR people. I am now going to turn over a copy of my check for athourities to check out to see who realy got the money.
I was taught never say something bad about someone if you cant say anything good. I dont think that applies on this kind of fraud. :!:

Dan Reiter
 

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David, I'm from Missouri. I'll completely skip overe the "Show Me" and go right to "BS" on that one! That's not my initials either! :lol: :lol:
Dan, Between the Scott Shields and the Sandy Andersons in this world, SAR has taken one heck of a hit. :(
 

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The whole thing is sickening.

For every scum out there there are dozens or scores or more of people throwing themselves into search work seriously trying to be the best they can............
 

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Dan there is a post on the Leerburg forum that corroborates your comment on his dog's behavior.........where the dog was at an event but now was wearing a muzzle.
 

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I tried to reply last night but couldnt get in, I read thing on Leerburgs hard to believe. I know after seeing & speaking with him I was very dissapointed. Puts his arm around you I am with 101st airborne just came back from Katrina yada yada yada . As far as the dog bite thing I was with a number of other people, we heard commotion was about 50 feet from us went over to see what happened and all said Scotts dog attacked another. I also saw his dog several times during day was not dog friendly but appeared ok with people. I have video others shot of us doing demos of passive alert Scotts truck is the backdrop, the owner of company I was with raised hell with Scott over us being held up so he did give us great spot was next to where he parked and at main entrance. Anyway I spoke with people involved and am forwarding related material. I had hoped this was just a guy over stating qaulifacaions and no fraud but It is begining to sound like fraud all the way. Im sure all the facts will be out in next year.

Dan
 

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Discussion Starter #14
So do a lot of people buy off-the-shelf trained SAR dogs so they can play cops and robbers?

May be a dumb question, I just really have no idea.
 

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It is a rather strange question ....

Never heard of anyone selling a dog trained for SAR. My recent dog was purchased as a young adult because I wanted a more "sure thing" after bringing a young dog to operational levels, then learning she was dysplastic. The new dog was a perfect choice for me as he has no desire to fight but an overabundance of drive, is not aggressive, and is sound. Plus I did not want to loose the time invested in a puppy.

Not sure how you could play cops and robbers with a SAR dog, most are specifically trained NOT to get a bite at the find and with a different mileu of problems (more aging and contamination less urban) than most patrol dogs, plus WHO in their right mind would use a civilian listening to a scanner for patrol work?

I do have a friend who has gotten so into her dog training that she is in training to be a reserve officer for the PD and do criminal apprehension, but only as a part time "employee" of the department and only with a bloodhound who will be stopped when they get close and the bite dog will be relased (I think that is how they do it - I really don't know as I have no interest in this).

Very few SAR teams will allow a SAR dog to do criminal work.

Cadaver work does regularly cross into the forensic investigation realm, but a lot of folks, like myself, are getting into it not because we really really really want to play *CSI*, but because it can open doors with departments who are funded for narcotics/patrol and bomb dogs but NOT for human remains dogs. In other words, it is a great way to demonstrate professionalism and proficiency/competency and hope they may call you when a live person goes missing.

There are benefits to be had with a dog who (1) is regularly trained on 12-36 hour old trailing problems in contaminated areas (2) an air scent dog who is either generic or scent discriminating and can scan a large area with an open grid team. We go out of our way to explain to departments that we do not want to compete with their patrol dogs but provide another tool that is not really something any one given department needs, but a resource that can be used in a broad area.

Does that answer your question any?
 

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Woody, in my experience, it's usually well meaning people, lovers of dogs and looking to volunteer thier help. They like the idea of giving the dog a job. the exercise is good and it's a worthwhile cause. The problem, in my opinion; there is no particular standard that anyone follows. Whether it's SAR or cadaver etc. Often times they do not recieve adequate training stemming from a lack of knowledge on both dog training and searching for lost persons. Then of course there is the politics of any organization. Someone has to be the "stud" so to speak. It's also my experience that when they do show up, there is very little organization or communication among groups.

Please don't misuderstand, there are many very good rescue organizations out there that, in no way, fit this description. They train, work hard and are very proficient in thier job.

DFrost
 

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David I think you hit the nail on the head. National Standards (even state standards), annual testing, and evaluation of training logs to ensure adequate reliability would go a long way.

Most legitimate teams abhor people who listen to scanners and self deploy or people who don't hold to high standards. Plus there are major issues of insurance (particularly liability) and criminal background checks (We have gone from requiring state checks to FBI criminal background checks). It is imperitive that people do not misrepresent their capabilities. Many simply do not know. Also, just passing a test does not guarantee reliability - the dangerous person is one who *got lucky* and thinks they know more than they do.

We are fortunate in that the teams that are evolving in my state train together on a semi regular basis - we even coordinated a cadaver search that brought in people from 3 teams and ran the IC - the police department gave us very positive feedback. I am sponsored for NAPWDA by a Master Trainer on one of the other teams.

NASAR, a political beast is the only organization that has standards in all search disciplines**, but there is a lot of frustration with the politics that have been going on there. NAPWDA will certify in trailing and area search but NOT in cadaver. NNDDA will in cadaver. USPCA will let you test but not certify you. In my dream world, NAPWDA would start certifying civilians since cadaver dogs seem to be in short supply in most police departments.

**and I heard they are negotiating with FEMA and are setting standards to match the NIMs classifications -- but once again, a very political beast.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Nancy Jocoy said:
David I think you hit the nail on the head. National Standards (even state standards), annual testing, and evaluation of training logs to ensure adequate reliability would go a long way.

Most legitimate teams abhor people who listen to scanners and self deploy or people who don't hold to high standards. Plus there are major issues of insurance (particularly liability) and criminal background checks (We have gone from requiring state checks to FBI criminal background checks). It is imperitive that people do not misrepresent their capabilities. Many simply do not know. Also, just passing a test does not guarantee reliability - the dangerous person is one who *got lucky* and thinks they know more than they do.

We are fortunate in that the teams that are evolving in my state train together on a semi regular basis - we even coordinated a cadaver search that brought in people from 3 teams and ran the IC - the police department gave us very positive feedback. I am sponsored for NAPWDA by a Master Trainer on one of the other teams.

NASAR, a political beast is the only organization that has standards in all search disciplines**, but there is a lot of frustration with the politics that have been going on there. NAPWDA will certify in trailing and area search but NOT in cadaver. NNDDA will in cadaver. USPCA will let you test but not certify you. In my dream world, NAPWDA would start certifying civilians since cadaver dogs seem to be in short supply in most police departments.

**and I heard they are negotiating with FEMA and are setting standards to match the NIMs classifications -- but once again, a very political beast.
Are there standards/expectations set for the handlers? Physical capabilities, basic legal knowledge, even stuff like orienteering and modes of communication?
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Nancy Jocoy said:
It is a rather strange question ....
Don't get me wrong. By "cops and robbers" I meant extroverts that live for inserting themselves into some kind of situation like a SAR activity. Weekend warriors. Not using the SAR dog as a police dog.

The example that provoked the question was a woman in this region who has a bad habit of going after cold cases of missing persons and giving their families false hope (I mean searching sites in some cases years after a crime has occured) and really, really angering the local authorities. I don't blame them. I can't remember the whole deal with her, but she was an eccentric...I want to say also claimed psychic abilities? I'll try and find it.
 

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Woody, what you say has a lot of truth. While that certainly should not detract from those that do train to a standard and are in organized programs, there are those that really misrepresent thier abilities. An example I was pretty upset with, both as law enforcement and as a dog trainer, happened in our area. A missing child, every effort had been made locate the child. We (law enforcement) knew that this was a kidnapping type incident and the end wouldn't be pretty. Then this amazing dog handler shows up. He lets his dog sniff the trunk of a car that was reportedly seen at the scene. The dog handler announces that he was certain the little girl had been in the trunk of the car because the dog was sad. Of course to the parents of this child this gave them hope of closure. They were upset with law enforcement because we weren't taking the dog handler serious at all. The dog handler, to outdo him marvelous feat, even showed us where the little girl had been thrown into the river because again, his dog was "sad" at a particular spot. Of course when we did find her, she wasn't anywhere near the river, let alone that spot. They do give false hope to a victims survivors.

DFrost
 
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