K-9 officers excel at state trials

Published 5:27 am Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Rayburn Correctional Center’s K-9 Unit recently attended the 2017 Louisiana Department of Corrections Manhunt Field Trials held in Pineville, on the grounds of the Camp Beauregard National Guard Base. An opening ceremony was held on Tuesday, May 16, and the competition ended on Friday, with an awards ceremony and luncheon. Teams from seven of the state’s adult male correctional centers and one team from the Florida Department of Corrections participated in the field trials

During the opening meeting, all rules were read and the tracks each team would run were randomly selected. A “track” is a scent left on a trail by an individual the team is searching for. Each team was required to run two tracks, one during the day and another at night. Each track was 90 minutes old and one mile in length. Four flags were placed on each of the one-mile tracks by the track layer. For each flag found by the tracking team, one minute would be deducted from their total time. During this event only one tracking dog could be used during each track.

Capt. Chesley Spears, Capt. Richard Forbes, and Lt. Cody Williams, along with “Willie,” a 3-and-a-half-year-old bloodhound, attended the event from Rayburn Correctional Center. During the initial meeting, the K-9 team established that they would run both day and night tracks on Thursday, May 18. The team discovered each of the four flags on both the day and night tracks. Their final time on the day track, with the bonus four minutes, was 16 minutes and 15 seconds; and 24:16 on the night track with the additional four minutes. The team completed the tracking competition with an average time of 20 minutes and 15 seconds.

Each of the top three teams found all four of their flags on each of their trails. The top teams in the event were: Rayburn Correctional Center, in first place with an average time of 20:15; Louisiana State Penitentiary (Angola) in second place with an average time of 24:78; and in third place, Escambia County (Florida) Road Prison with an average time of 38:75.

Since 2008, the top team at the Louisiana DOC Manhunt Field Trials takes home a trophy inscribed with the winners from the previous years (the event was not held from 2014 thru 2016.) RCC has taken home the top honors in four of the past seven competitions.

Warden Robert Tanner commended his officers on their accomplishment.

“Having a successful K9 program does not happen overnight,” Tanner said. “Our officers put in many long hours on a weekly basis training and caring for their canine co-workers, in addition to other duties. Their successes at these competitions demonstrate their pride, professionalism, and ability to respond when needed to incidents within the institution and in our local communities.

“I am extremely proud of all of the men and women who serve our facility in different capacities. They do an outstanding job under difficult conditions and stressful situations.”