Always remember that the thermal imager has limitations. Despite the movies and television it cannot see into buildings, under water or through heavy foliage. This is where the airborne/K 9 team can really shine. A west coast agency was chasing several armed robbery suspects in a vehicle. The suspects suddenly pulled over and fled into dense brush. The overhead airborne law enforcement unit saw the subjects flee into the brush but then lost them under the dense cover. At the very least, the airborne crew could clearly see if they would come out the other side of the bushes or stay and hide among the bushes and trees. The airborne unit directed ground units into optimum position to contain the suspects and a K-9 officer soon arrived. The three suspects were quickly captured. After they were taken into custody, the K-9 continued a search and recovered three loaded handguns.
Many airborne units will de-brief with K9 officers after a search to compare observations and what worked or what surprises they encountered. One airborne law enforcement unit was concerned that the aircraft noise might distract the dog. The handler assured them that he never even saw the dog react to the aircraft. It was as if the dog knew the aircraft was the good guys and continued on doing the search. It is also helpful for the k-9 officer to understand and know the aircrafts limitations. It can help them focus on areas that the handler knows cannot clearly be seen by the aircraft.
Most officers have experienced the tremendous satisfaction of a successful perp search when the whole team comes together. The patrol officers do a great job of containing, the airborne unit pinpoints a location and finally the k-9 moves in for the takedown. From the flight deck, it is always satisfying to watch in the thermal images as the dog bears down on the hapless suspect, knowing in a few seconds, the chase will be concluded.
The cooperation and success of all units involved, without any injuries to any law enforcement personnel is a great day by any standards!