Posted Tuesday, July 3, 2012 --- 12:34 p.m.
Press Release from the Madison Police Department:
As is the case with most serious criminal investigations, there are often backstories that never publically see the light of day, but internally – within the ranks of the MPD – they often become popular conversation topics as word spreads in hallways or around briefing rooms. Sometimes such police work becomes the stuff of award nominations. This is one such backstory:
On the night of the annual Madison fireworks extravaganza, Rhythm & Booms, MPD K9 Slim and his partner, Officer Carren Corcoran, were assigned to be ready to go anywhere in the city should a police dog be needed. At approximately 9:38 p.m., about the same time the grand finale was lighting up the muggy night sky above Warner Park, officers were about to be dispatched to a homicide scene (500 block Waxwing Lane) not far from where tens of thousands were taking in the last of the exploding multi-colored rockets. The sounds of alert tones coming from officers’ radios began to to mix with patriotic music to which the fireworks are choreographed.
Officer Corcoran learned via the command post that an article of clothing, belonging to the homicide suspect, had been found at the scene. It was a pair of black, size 11, flip flops. She took a section of sterile gauze, stuck it in one of the flip flops, and kept it there for 10 minutes.
She and Slim then joined members of SWAT and other MPD personnel as word came in that the suspect had likely fled to an address on Troy Dr. He was no longer there, but it was a starting point for Slim. Partner Corcoran allowed Slim to take in the scent left on the gauze. “K9 Slim eagerly began to track while in his harness and (on his) 15-foot line,” wrote Corcoran in a case report.
It would be the beginning of a very long track, cutting right through the area where tens of thousands had – just hours prior – departed Rhythm & Booms. The streets were filled with scents, but Slim had just one he would follow. He began inbound, toward city center, leading his human team along Northport Dr. to N. Sherman Ave., from N. Sherman Ave. to Fordem Ave., from Fordem Ave. to Burrows Park, from Burrows Park to E. Johnson St., from E. Johnson St. to E. Gorham St., from E. Gorham St. to Brearly St.
The night was so hot that 5 times during the track Slim was placed in the SWAT Suburban. It was cool there, and for 5 minute stretches Slim would take breather, get some water, and head back out on the track.
He eventually led officers from to a porch of a Brearly St. residence. It was 3.8 miles from where he started the track. He had used his nose to follow a trail from way out on the north side to the downtown along sidewalks and streets where thousands had recently walked. The suspect was not found. He would turn himself in later that day. But as the investigation played out, it was learned that the suspect had ties to the Brearly St. residence, and had indeed walked there.
A sergeant has submitted an official performance recognition for Slim, as this was one heck of a track. “Although his human partner normally receives credit for much of the work they do as a team, I think it only appropriate to give credit to Slim for a change. A job well done Slim!” wrote the sergeant. The performance recognition will go in Slim’s file and could be the impetus for a departmental award.
It is not police work that would typically catch headlines following a homicide, but it is one of those backstories that is quickly making its way around the halls of the MPD.
A footnote: K9 Slim and Officer Corcoran received the Handler of the Year Award in 2011 from the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Canine Handler Association.