Tracker lessons put police on trail of improvement
Asbury Park Press (Neptune,
March 30, 1998
CLARE M. LORENC
LONG BEACH TOWNSHIP - Making your mark in this world is easier
than you might think. In fact, it is impossible to avoid.
That's what about 30 police officers from throughout Ocean County
were taught this weekend at a tracking and survival seminar.
The voluntary program was taught under the direction of Tom Brown
Jr., a survival and tracking expert.
Nicknamed "The Tracker," Brown has worked nationally
with a number of police departments and government officials
and has taught groups such as the Navy SEALS.
Brown's Tracking, Nature and Wilderness Survival School, located
in Hunterdon County, teaches survival skills to more than 3,000
people a year. He volunteered to instruct the seminar here.
"Tracking is such a tremendous science," he said. "The
guys here want to keep themselves safe as well as making the
The two-day seminar began with basic field work held in an open
area behind the police department. The officers were taught sign
tracking, a method that teaches how animals move in the wilderness
and what basic clues to look for in the tracking process.
On the final day, the officers were taught skills that would aid
them in collecting crucial information toward solving crimes
and locating missing persons and criminals.
As part of this lesson, Brown and Kevin Reeve, tracking school
director, set up a house break-in scenario leaving a number of
signs and tracks complete with tire tracks of a "carjacked"
Reeve who has been worked with Brown for seven years has noticed
that people who panic often become irrational, making it easier
for the police to follow their trail. He added that people often
overlook clues in the rush to try to locate someone.
"There are thousands of different footprints and ways to
leave an impression," said Reeve. "Nobody leaves anywhere
without leaving some record that they've been there."
The purpose of the seminar was to give officers a valuable skill
that is not taught to the extent that is needed at the police
academy, said Long Beach Township Sgt. Paul Vereb.
Among some of the other lessons the officers were taught were,
how to determine the age of a track, and the right way to set
up a tracking team.
Jackson Township Detective Anthony Senatore said tracking is an
important part of solving crimes in his township's heavily wooded
areas. Tracking skills become necessary when high-tech search
equipment and even the most reliable dogs have come up short,
Senatore said. He added that in court, a good footprint impression
can be just as convicting as a fingerprint.
"Bad guys don't think of footprints," he said. "It
locks them to the scene."