There are the usual hiding spots for fleeing suspects, and then there are unusual ones. But, rest assured, police dog Fred only trusts his nose when on a search.
For Constable Craig Tourangeau and his partner, police dog Fred, it was a first to find a man hiding under a large barbeque covered with a black tarp.
On February 3, a man was working in his home in the basement when he heard the doorbell ring. He walked upstairs, and looked through a side window, to see two men outside. After waiting for a few seconds, the men left the property. The man went back down to his basement to finish his work.
A few seconds later, he heard a loud sound of something breaking upstairs. The two men had broken in a side door and gotten inside the house. The homeowner immediately called 9-1-1. Officers arrived in a few minutes. They were able to arrest one suspect, while the other managed to flee the scene and hide from officers after a short foot pursuit.
Police were able to cordon the area quickly so that the suspect would have to sit tight in whatever spot he’d chosen to conceal himself.
Constable Tourangeau and Fred arrived in less than 15 minutes and began a search. Fred is a general-purpose dog trained to detect human scent.
“The officers had set up an excellent perimeter,” says Tourangeau, who began his search with Fred. They first went into a backyard where one witness had seen the suspect go.
“We cleared the yard and went into the next backyard,” says Tourangeau. Immediately, Fred jumped on the deck in the backyard and approached a large barbeque, says Torangeau.
Fred sat down next to the barbecue and began barking to alert his police partner.
“He started showing signs of strong human scent,” says Tourangeau, who gained control of Fred and initiated a Canine Challenge: calling for a person to surrender and advise that a police dog is present.
“I then observed the suspect crawl out on all fours from under the barbecue,” says Tourangeau, who had a second officer arrest the suspect.
“If it hadn’t been for the dog, we would not have found him, says Tourangeau, who says that officers also found an 8-inch-knife under the barbecue once the suspect was arrested.
For Tourangeau, having Fred as a partner means he has another tool to safely de-escalate dangerous situations.
“Dogs are not always there for searching for suspects. They are there as a force multiplier and act as a deterrent,” says Tourangeau, saying that having a police dog as a partner can change the dynamics of a situation.
“Psychologically, people know people but not dogs, so they can’t communicate with a dog,” explains Tourangeau, saying an unknown fear of the dog also makes it likely for people to surrender quickly.
Superintendent Scott Baptist, of 13 Division, where the incident took place, said officers did exactly what they were supposed to do after losing the suspect in a short foot pursuit. They set up a quick perimeter for the dog and handler to have a work area, without disrupting the scene too much.
“By not disturbing the area, there is a fresh scent for the dog to be able to track down (the person),” says Baptist.
Other than the homeowner’s relief that the suspects breaking into his home were caught, Baptist said the surrounding community also got a sense of satisfaction.
“There had been a number of break-and-enters in the area… for the community to see police in the area proactively working and making a quick arrest, there was a sense of satisfaction,” Baptist added.