Tulsa County SWAT Team Brushes Up On Tracking Technique

Wednesday, February 25th 2015, 7:01 pm
By: News On 6

Tulsa County Sheriff's Office SWAT Team is training to become better at tracking suspects.

They went to Keystone State Park today to train in the rough terrain there.

SWAT members went through the rigorous training to make sure they are ready to respond to a high-risk situation –- no matter if it's in an urban area or a chase through the woods.

Keystone State Park has woods with tall grass and no roads in sight, and it represents areas that suspect easily could use as camouflage.

But with members of SWAT on their heels, they likely won't get far.

Deputy Michael Bonin is a trained tracker who uses the smallest clues to find people on the run.

He's teaching SWAT members a new method of tracking.

"The old school search and rescue tracking, the guys just watched the ground,” Bonin said. “But in this type of environment, we have to have a security element around while the tracker is actually tracking."

The mission starts off with a debriefing.

“Who can tell me what the five elements of a track are?”

Then it moves into the search area, with members armed with guns providing security for the trackers in front of and behind him.

The team must work in complete silence

"Anything that would clue in the suspect that we are moving in on him,” Bonin said. “He can either fight or flight."

They use hand signals to communicate with each other.

With the tracker's command to move forward, the team keeps looking for the next clue, until the trail eventually leads them to the person they're after.

“Hands up high! Both of you! Separate from each other!”

It's a skill Bonin said any level of law enforcement can use to make them better at their job.

“They are able to track things they would normally blow off,” he said. “We've received reports of that, like evidence missed or a partial track at a crime scene."

After SWAT members complete the training, they will be some of the most advanced trackers in the state.

The final test will come next month, when the team travels to western Oklahoma to take part in a 7-mile manhunt in a wooded area.