In a high-tech age, ‘low-tech’ bloodhounds still used in law enforcement
New Jersey law enforcement officers say that despite upgrades in technology, bloodhounds are still the best tool for tracking down a missing person.
New Jersey’s newest police bloodhound officer is 6-month-old Becket, who was officially sworn in as a K9 officer during a ceremony in Middlesex County. Becket is now the fourth bloodhound to be inducted into the Middlesex County Search and Rescue Team. The dogs are used to find missing people, especially New Jersey residents who are suffering from Alzheimer’s or who have autism – people who are prone to wandering off.
“There’s nothing that's been able to replace these dogs. These dogs are bred, they are trained, they are raised for one purpose and that is to track a missing person down,” says Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey. “I’ve been out with these dogs where they followed a scent from 14 months before.”
Michael Campbell is Becket's handler. He says that bloodhounds have been used to track missing people since the 1800s.
“There’s odors all over the ground. All she does is pushes the odor everywhere and brings the odor up,” Campbell says.
Campbell says that Becket has a special harness that is used to let her know that it is time to do her job.
“If we put the harness on she knows no one can pet her. She knows it's time to go to work,” he says.
Officials say that bloodhounds can be better than high-tech items like drones when it comes to locating missing people.
“They have drones that come up and go out but they're limited to where they can go, where they can fly, where they cannot fly. Where if you put the dog out on the job, the dog goes just about anywhere,” Campbell says.
Becket still has a few weeks of training left before she can go out and work. She was bred for police work by a foundation in Florida. Middlesex County Crime Stoppers helped fund the program.