A common searching method used by the Barnstable K-9 Unit is the area search. This searching technique is mostly used when searching for the suspect of a crime or weapons and other evidence in a specific area. This often allows the dog to work off lead and roam freely trying to pick up the subject’s scent in the air from their person or something they touched.
Upon arrival at a scene, the K-9 handler would usually begin by meeting with officers that are already on the scene. They can hopefully direct the K-9 team to a location where the suspect was known to have been. This gives the K-9 officer an idea as to where the best place to start the search is. It is important that a K-9 begins the search in the best location possible to find the scent he is looking for.
When doing an area search, the K-9 patrol dog is sniffing the air for a human scent taking into consideration wind and other factors. While conducting the search the handler may need to help his partner avoid dangers and distractions like other dogs, hazards, in the area, and may need to help the dog get over obstacles such as fences or climbing through windows into buildings.
Human scent is carried downwind by air currents. It disperses as it moves further away from the origin of the scent. When the K-9 detects the scent he can follow it to the source. The source of the scent may not always be the suspect themselves, but may be on items the suspect got rid of like a weapon or clothing to change appearance.