People First

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We were recently fortunate to be asked to deliver a bespoke and targeted training package on behalf of the Military.  PENCARI Training quickly identified that the team’s we were training had previously received a plethora of predominantly classroom based training, along with a considerable amount of ‘gifted’ equipment and technology. Although these previous initiatives were well intended, we weren’t convinced that this was the best approach. So we focused our attention on what we believe is the most important asset in any Unit or team, regardless of that team being from a military, law enforcement or even NGO background – the individual.

Adapted Instr

The Human Element is our first pillar of training ethos putting the person first. Improving that individual and ensuring that they can be the very best that they can be, ultimately enhancing the overall team’s capability and preventing what we commonly see as an over reliance on technology…..

The Human Factor

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age-stand

PENCARI training recently delivered a CIED Sign Awareness course to operators within both the Norwegian Army and the USMC – the photo shows the importance of studying and understanding how “sign” ages, allowing operators to reach an understanding on what is relevant to an IED emplacement and what might be normal pattern of life – great course and a lot of fun working with these real Vikings!

IED Awareness/identification IS NOT all about technology – its about the Human Factor. The guys and girls who function 24/7 in all weather conditions without the need for a battery change or a replacement part…..

Law Enforcement – Pursuit IX Tracking

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We were recently privileged to deliver our Law Enforcement Pursuit IX Tracking training to the Netherlands Police Department. They now have a capability that allows them to identify the “action indicators” attributed to criminal or terrorist activity and if required, actively and offensively pursue in all environments in order to successfully arrest or interdict. Great people, who are out there on the streets keeping us safe 24/7.

Thank you and stay safe.

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Crimescene: Looking For Shoe-prints? Don’t Look For Shoe-prints!

Although the title may seem contradictory and look like a way to attract attention to this article (and if you’re reading this, it worked!), there’s more to it. Please allow me to explain.

First of all, the correct terminology in the forensic field is footwear outsole impressions. Recovery and examination of footwear impression evidence is an important tool in the forensic investigators’ toolbox and can provide essential evidence in a crime scene investigation. The clearer and more defined an impression is, the higher the chance that specific identifiers, like unique wear patterns, cuts and defects, can be recovered and a specific impression can be tied to a specific boot. A series of impressions can help reconstruct a sequence of events, as well as give an indication of the actions and movement patterns of an individual. Additionally, individual gait specifics may be identified and tied to an individual.

But what if your crime scene is on a substrate that is not conducive to crisp and clear impressions? What if your crime scene is, say, in the middle of a mixed deciduous and coniferous forest?

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Mixed forest floors consist of multiple layers of pine needles, leaves, detritus, humus and other debris in several stages of decay. This makes for a very soft, almost cushion-like flooring that absorbs the pressure of contact with a human body part. Also, it will leave no clear impression that will show footwear class information, let alone any specific identifiers. How can we find a usable impression?

If you’re looking for usable outsole impressions, you will have a hard time. This has to do with perception and expectation. If you expect to see a print or (part of) tread marks, you might miss all those small subtle clues that show you someone set a foot on that forest floor. Trackers look for “sign”, which can be defined as “any change from the natural state, inflicted upon the environment by the passage of man, animal or machinery”. There are several characteristics to sign, but the most prominent in this example are what in tracking is called flattening, colour change and disturbance.

Although it probably has been an important part of man’s survival since humans started hunting 2 million years ago and has been an integral part of early religion, tracking and searching for sign is above anything about visual perception and object and pattern recognition. Imagine your brain having file folders with images how objects and shapes and people around you look, a process of constant registration, storing, and learning. In order to create order in the seemingly chaotic world around you, your brain will compare what your eyes see with what is stored in your file folders. When a match is found, you will recognise what you see. “Look, it’s my uncle Bob!”

Understanding this principle helps to understand tracking and how to learn how to see sign in different substrates. By exposing a student tracker to as much sign in different substrates, environmental conditions and age of sign and effectively filling his/her file folders, he/she will be able to learn to see sign in seemingly very difficult terrain.

markings

Back to the pine forest. After being exposed to tracker-based training the forensic investigator may be able to identify the subtle flattening, colour change and general disturbance associated with human impressions. Two kneeling positions identified under and partially on the victim link these specific impressions to the victim. From these sign patterns the investigator is able to identify the entry and exit route of this specific subject. Linking the subtle marks on the ground together into an uninterrupted chain of evidence the investigator is able to retrace the steps of the subject. Stride length, straddle, pressure, dwell time and pitch angle all serve as indicators of the suspects’ actions. Until the investigator hits a “track trap”.

track-trap

 

In tracking a track trap is defined as an area conducive to good sign. In this case the subject stepped on an old molehill. The soft, relatively moist sand leaves a very clear impression. As an isolated print this impression would be of limited value, but the investigators’ ability to link the incident to this track through an uninterrupted chain of subtle clues increases the value of this piece of impression evidence, effectively enabling him to link this print to the incident.

If you’re only looking for clear recoverable prints you may miss a potentially large amount of clues and evidence, which may help you reconstruct scenarios, effectively steering your investigation. In some instances these “breadcrumbs” will lead you to a good impression, a secondary crime scene, discarded evidence in an area where the suspect felt safe and dropped his/her “forensic guard”, or maybe even the suspect.

(No humans were hurt during the writing of this article. All pictures were taken during a training scenario.)

Combat & Survival Magazine

C&S Editorial-Pencari

Please select our link above and it will take you to a recent editorial covering our Combat Tracking IX Training. We hope you enjoy it and please feel free to share it and pass it on to friends and colleagues.

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