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Tracker lessons put police on trail of improvement
Asbury Park Press (Neptune, NJ.)
March 30, 1998

LONG BEACH TOWNSHIP - Making your mark in this world is easier than you might think. In fact, it is impossible to avoid.

That's what about 30 police officers from throughout Ocean County were taught this weekend at a tracking and survival seminar. The voluntary program was taught under the direction of Tom Brown Jr., a survival and tracking expert.

Nicknamed "The Tracker," Brown has worked nationally with a number of police departments and government officials and has taught groups such as the Navy SEALS.

Brown's Tracking, Nature and Wilderness Survival School, located in Hunterdon County, teaches survival skills to more than 3,000 people a year. He volunteered to instruct the seminar here.

"Tracking is such a tremendous science," he said. "The guys here want to keep themselves safe as well as making the community safer."

The two-day seminar began with basic field work held in an open area behind the police department. The officers were taught sign tracking, a method that teaches how animals move in the wilderness and what basic clues to look for in the tracking process.

On the final day, the officers were taught skills that would aid them in collecting crucial information toward solving crimes and locating missing persons and criminals.

As part of this lesson, Brown and Kevin Reeve, tracking school director, set up a house break-in scenario leaving a number of signs and tracks complete with tire tracks of a "carjacked" vehicle.

Reeve who has been worked with Brown for seven years has noticed that people who panic often become irrational, making it easier for the police to follow their trail. He added that people often overlook clues in the rush to try to locate someone.

"There are thousands of different footprints and ways to leave an impression," said Reeve. "Nobody leaves anywhere without leaving some record that they've been there."

The purpose of the seminar was to give officers a valuable skill that is not taught to the extent that is needed at the police academy, said Long Beach Township Sgt. Paul Vereb.

Among some of the other lessons the officers were taught were, how to determine the age of a track, and the right way to set up a tracking team.

Jackson Township Detective Anthony Senatore said tracking is an important part of solving crimes in his township's heavily wooded areas. Tracking skills become necessary when high-tech search equipment and even the most reliable dogs have come up short, Senatore said. He added that in court, a good footprint impression can be just as convicting as a fingerprint.

"Bad guys don't think of footprints," he said. "It locks them to the scene."

This website has no official or informal connection to the Tracker School or Tom Brown Jr. whatsoever


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