Foot Pursuit

Vancouver beaches are spectacular.  Maybe not as amazing as the beaches in tropical climes, but beautiful none the less.  This past weekend was no exception, and all the local beaches were jammed to capacity.

Most people go to the beach with their friends, their kids, or their dog.  Kites and Frisbees, fish and chips, sunscreen and sand, flip-flops and bikinis – you see it all at the beach.  Unfortunately, you also see the occasion drunk, or a fool trying to act like a big shot, or a group of kids causing a disturbance.

This time, someone called in about a young man who appeared to be intoxicated.  He was kicking up sand, disturbing other people, and starting to get out of hand so the witness called 911 in the hopes of averting a potential ‘situation’ before it happened.  A single officer responded to the call, hiking out across the sand to speak to the ‘subject of complaint’ (SOC).

The SOC was shirtless, shoeless and fit.  He was tanned and healthy, but was intoxicated and/or high on drugs and was being a nuisance so the officer ran his name over the radio to check for any records.  Just as the dispatcher came back to let the officer know the SOC was wanted on a BC wide warrant of arrest, the SOC made a break for it.  I’m not sure what alerted the SOC to the warrant as the officer was wearing an earpiece to keep radio communications private, but something happened.  Perhaps the SOC knew he wanted and knew the gig was up.  Who knows, but according to the officer, the SOC was off like a flash.

If you have ever tried running on dry sand, you will appreciate how hard it is.  Try running on sand while wearing hiking boots and 30 pounds of gear.  In 30 degree heat (86 degrees F for my American friends), after a suspect wearing next to nothing who does not want to get caught.

The officer took after the suspect and broadcast the foot pursuit.  I happened to be nearby and responded Code 3, but driving in that area is like playing Frogger – lots of pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles. 

The officer, who is young and fit himself, did a great job keeping up to the suspect once they were on pavement, but the distance lost on the sand could not be regained.  The crowds played a factor as well, and within four blocks, the officer lost sight of the SOC.  I came upon the officer halfway up a steep hill as he stood there with his hand up to shield his eyes, his entire posture comminicating the sheer frustration he was feeling at having lost the SOC.  I told him to hop in with me.

We drove around looking for the SOC (I couldn’t deploy PSD Hondo on a track because of all the people) as the officer said the guy had likely gone to ground as he had been trying to hide just before the officer lost sight of him.   Thus began the waiting game.  There were cops everywhere.  The SOC had to emerge at some point.  I dropped the officer back at this car, then went to a spot I thought would be likely for the SOC to return to.

Let me just interject something here – I am not a terribly patient person when it comes to waiting things out.  I like action, and to sit in a static position is a true test of my will power.  But I knew if I waited long enough, the SOC would show up.  So I waited.

And was rewarded.

About an hour later, a woman called in about a suspicious male only 3/4 block from my location.  The suspicious male was hiding in the bushes between two apartment buildings and was moaning and rolling around.  The woman only knew it was a man from the voice, but she did not have a clear view of him and could not provide a description.  We all suspected it was our SOC.

I got to the area first – there was no way the SOC would be able to outrun my dog if he were to try and escape again. 

As we made our way into the bushes I could see and hear the shrubs ahead of us moving, but I could not see the person in the bushes.  Was it the SOC? Was it a homeless person?  I had to be sure so I called out.  When I yelled to whoever was in the shrub that they were under arrest and to show their hands, PSD Hondo barked.  It was all the encouragement the SOC needed.

Two hands shots up so fast I thought they would detach at the wrist and go flying off into a nearby hedge.  The hands were shortly followed by the rest of the SOC as he crawled out from the bush and lay on the ground with his arms out to the side.  Completely and utterly compliant. I would be too if I had an 85 lb police dog barking at me.

Once the SOC was in cuffs, I returned PSD Hondo to my truck.  My dog was wagging his tail, prancing beside me, bumping up against my leg to let me know he was happy that we had ‘found’ the guy. 

It’s pretty cool.  Even if all they get to do is bark at someone while their handler yells out commands, the dogs dig it.  They live for this type of work.


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