Dam, those words resonate over the police radio, no more than this night.
I was working a late one this night, 8p-4a on a Friday night. It’s usually a busy night, but this night was going to be a night I would never forget.
The Friday night progressed as it was any other, the odd domestic, a few blews with the locals in Flinder’s street in Townsville.
I was working with Andrew, his nickname was Fang, my partner that night with our respective dogs. I had a young police dog, ZAC and he had BEAU, and experienced and very awesome police dog. Usually we work solo but Friday and Saturday nights we would sometimes double up in case it got a little silly.
Anyhoo, we got the call over the police radio, armed holdup at the the service station on the western side of Townsville…miles away…and we were miles away when the call came in. So we started heading in that direction.
There was a heap of generals cars that were well and truly in front of us, and got on the scene way before us. They gave out the the description of the offender and his getaway vehicle over the radio, so we were on the lookout for a vehicle matching the description given by the first crew, not that it really mattered to us…we were miles away…and the baddy would have been the unluckiest bugger in the world to run into us so far away.
Literally….2 minutes later…a call comes over the police radio….VRK…IN PURSUIT…a generals car had spotted the car matching the description of the suspect vehicle and the chase was on. I glanced at fang…and said….lets go….WEEEEEEEEE….there was a fair chance the the baddy was gunna run…and that’s where we come in….hide and seek, ready or not here we come.
So off we go…the call is continuous over the radio, eventually 2 police vehicles are in pursuit and the pursuit is called over the airwaves of the police radio. Now, if anyone is unaware of how this sounds, it sounds like controlled panic. Imagine traveling at over 120klm chasing someone, probably on drugs, armed not wanting to be caught in a high speed pursuit and police need to call the pursuit in a manner that can be recorded accurately via the communications section at headquarters in case of presentation in court, professionalism paramount, yet, adrenalin rushing though the police officers in the vehicle like you wouldn’t believe…unless you have done it..experienced it…it is a hard thing to understand…let alone do.
The pursuit goes on for a good 5 minutes and we are monitoring the path in which it is progressing and are proceeding at close to the speed of sound to get there. You see, in the dog squad, the quicker you get to a person who decamps, the better your chances you have of catching them. The thing was, worst case scenario…we would be 5 minutes, but we were cutting down that window big time.
Then we hear over the radio…VRK, THE VEHICLE HAS CRASHED….woohoo, we are so close, man this guy is toast, if the boys in pursuit don’t get him, we will….then there is silence for….about 30 seconds…which when you are driving at the speed of sound is along time.
Then…probably one of the most scariest sounds I think I have ever heard in my life…..
VKR URGENT…WE NEED URGENT ASSISTANCE………………………
Not only that, that was drowned out by the sound of gunfire in the background.
OH…MY…GOD…that was the most sickening sound. We went from the speed of sound, to the speed of light at this stage, we were literally 30 seconds away…and what we were prepared for was a scene that will be embedded in my mind forever.
THIS IS A GRADE NOW…
We came screaming around the corner to the scene and saw two police vehicles with their lights angled towards a black ute about 20 metres away. We jumped out of the car and were engaged by a screaming police officer with their guns out with two fellow police officers laying on the ground screaming from gun shot wounds. Oh the adrenalin. To be able to think in that situation was far from easy.
It was surreal…it was like slow motion, what do you do, think on your feet, adrenalin pumping like no mans business, coppers screaming everywhere. You look around frantically, is the baddy still here? You instantly rip out your firearm from your thigh holster and frantically scan the surrounds..Is he sitting in the car? beside the car? where is he? will he shoot us?
The first priority is making sure the boys are ok. Make sure ambulance is on the way, and make sure they are ok. After about 2 minutes, we make sure all bleeding has stopped. Andrew says to me, lets get him….here we go.
Andrew’s dog is the more experienced dog, he’s about 6 yo, mine is 2 yo, no time for the young buck to chance his arm here, this is A grade, we gotta catch this prick. Armed hold up, shot 2 coppers..not time for guesses..we need the serious dog.
We get information for the boys on the scene in the general direction where we think the baddy has run off… and it’s now our time to chase him down and find him. It’s pitch black, he has shot 2 coppers, he don’t want to be found and he has a firearm….a shotgun to be sure.
We get ready, we don’t put on the vests, cos we didn’t have any back then, but as Andrew is harnessing up his dog, he says to me…if you see this prick…he is yours, I won’t have my firearm or torch out, I will be concentrating on the dog, so I need you to sort him out if he pulls a gun on us.
As I had a torch as well, he said, whatever you do, do not silhouette me so he can see me and gets a shot at me….so I had to be weary not to use my torch at the wrong time.
Could you imagine what it’s like to know, you are about to charge into the dark of the night, not knowing where..when you will find this guy…and there is a fair chance you are going to have to shoot someone or be shot….WOAH…..
IN KICKS THE TRAINING
So off we go, Andrew casts the dog around the area where we think the offender has gone (casting is a process where you place the dog in a body harness and you hang on to him with a 30 foot line whilst the dog searches for scent) Literally, instantaneously…the dog indicates and charges off into the darkness…and I mean…dark..it was pitch black. Fang (Andrew) sprints off after him and I follow in hot pursuit…firearm drawn in the right hand and torch in the left….and away we go….to find an armed offender who has shot two police officers and done an armed hold up….he has the upper hand..he could very well see us…we cant see him
The dog sprints off into the dark…and we track for about 150 metres and we hit a river…SHIT…if he has gone in it…the dog will lose the scent. The dog launches itself into the water, but we can’t go in, it’s too wide…we have to go around. Lucky we know, the river goes under a causeway about 300 metres up the road, so we sprint up to the causeway, cross over and come back to where we think we were at.
Fang begins casting the dog again to see if he can pick up the scent again…a few minutes go by with Fang focusing on the dog’s reactions the whole time with me having my firearm prepped ready to engage. He kept saying to me, don’t let me get shot…you get him…the pressure is on.
Then…BANG…the dog hits the scent and off he goes up the bank of the river then after about 50 metres halts and then feverishly starts clawing at a brick wall…I quickly light the torch…and there I saw 2 wet hand marks on the brick wall….the hair on the back of my back stands up….we are on him.
We launch ourselves over the the brick wall. Fang and I on the other side of the wall, squatting with the dog, look at each other. We are in a courtyard of a unit complex. The unit complex is a u shape with car parks in each one, about 6 I think. Fang says to me,
PUCKER UP..TIME TO GET SERIOUS
‘Clear the car parks’
Glen was a Police Dog Handler with the Queensland Police Service for 14 years. During that time, he handled 4 police dogs and was also the Australian New Zealand Police Dog Champion Team. He has trained his dogs in tracking, manwork, drug detection, location of people and property and cadaver or human remains detection.