A police search can encompass many things. It can be a search for a suspect, search for a missing child, missing elderly person, or a search for evidence.
It is important that as a Police Officer, you conduct these searches thoroughly and efficiently.
It could mean the difference between making an arrest, losing the suspect, or putting people in danger.
Not every call an officer attends is going to result in an arrest. Sometimes you'll just need to put in a report, and sometimes even that won't be required.
But sometimes, a criminal act will have taken place, and an arrest will need to be made.
Now, do all the bad guys run from Police? No. When you are on scene investigating a crime and you determine that somebody there should be arrested, the majority of the time it will unfold without a hitch...
You've got the grounds, so you tell the guy turn around, put your hands behind your back. You arrest him. Fine.
However, there are times when the suspect will take off running, or won't even be on scene when you get there to do the investigation.
So what do you do? A police search, looking for the suspect.
It could be a burglary suspect who fled the scene.
A neighbor could call saying that they think that someone is in their neighbor's home, and while you are en route, more information from the dispatcher comes through, saying that the suspect has taken off and is traveling through the backyards etc.
If you can get there and grab the suspect before he gets away, great. But if he realizes that you are on the way, he may take off running or hide.
Obviously, it goes without saying that catching this guy then and there is the best.
Most burglary suspects are repeat offenders. They will break in to homes, apartments, etc on a regular basis, so catching him right there could potentially put a halt to another one that he was planning for the not so distant future.
If you are able to confirm that it is a burglary, and you have spare units available, you can try setting up a perimeter and call for the dogs. They can make attempts to track the suspect.
But if K-9 isn't available, you'll have to conduct a police search of the area.
Take the following into consideration:
- Suspect description, such as height, weight, color, facial hair, clothing.
Burglary guys often have an extra layer of clothing to remove in case they are spotted. Don't dismiss someone altogether just because the clothing isn't a perfect match. Also be mindful of the fact that the guy/girl may have a back pack to transport tools/ stolen items.
- Surrounding area- is there a transit route in the area that he might be heading to? Subway possibly?
- Is there any area like an alley or ravine in the nearby area that can't be accessed by car? He could be heading to that location knowing that squad cars can't make it there. Get out of your car and start searching on foot.
- Check the areas for unsecured sheds, garages, etc. Also, talk to people during your search. If this guy was leaving the area, it's possible that he was spotted by people in the area.
Obviously, in this example of a police search for suspects, we're using burglary as an example.
But it's the same idea for any suspect search, and it's not rocket science. Just check the area.
If K-9 is on the way, set up a perimeter and hold off for searching. You don't want to contaminate the scene and make it harder for the dogs to track.
But if K-9 isn't coming, go search. Check out everything that you can.