Montanio recalls his first field application of the system. He received a call on Easter night from the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department requesting assistance at a scene where a suspect had taken hostages and barricaded himself inside a City of Industry residence. Officials wanted Montanio to use the LifeGuard system to determine where people were located within the home, in case they had to do a rescue entry.
He recalls deploying the system on all sides of the home and getting two detections, one in the dwelling's center and the other in its northeast corner. When the suspect surrendered and SWAT officers entered, they found the subject and hostages holed up in the center of the home while a baby slept in a bedroom in the northeast corner.
In another incident, as undercover officers made a methamphetamine buy in south Los Angeles, the suspect took off running into a large warehouse. Montanio says he was able to use the LifeGuard to narrow the suspect's location to a small corner of the warehouse. K-9 officers located the suspect hidden in a locker near where Montanio had made the detection.
Tarnowski says a double blind test in the woods near the academy produced a 96-percent accuracy rate. "We have found that every time the unit has been used, we were able to detect where the individual was, be it under ground, above ground, through a building, through steel, through electrical transformers and from the air," he says.
Its strength is its consistency, he adds. "It's not one of those things that works one time, and then five times it doesn't."
This spells bad news for crooks hoping to outrun the long arm of the law. When officers are armed with a LifeGuard, suspects can run but they can no longer hide.