Some crime-evidence gatherers use low-tech skills. In an era when law enforcement has turned to high-tech gadgets and forensic science to help uncover clues at crime scenes, the ancient skill of tracking has largely gone overlooked, say experts quoted by the Seattle Times. While search-and-rescue teams have often used tracking to find missing persons, it’s only more recently being used as a tool in crime-scene investigations. Sheriff’s Deputy Kathleen Decker is leading the push in King County.
Trackers like Decker understand that human presence forever alters the land. Leaves bruise underfoot. Small rocks are displaced. Twigs bend. It’s these subtle clues that can tell an investigator many things – from the size of the suspect or his behavior, to the path of entrance and exit. Decker, 44, worked for years on King County’s homicide unit, but her love of the outdoors led her to tracking. On her own time and with her own money, she took classes from retired law-enforcement officer and professional tracker Joel Hardin, who operates one of the nation’s oldest training programs for trackers. After she attended her first lecture on tracking in 1998, she came away shocked that tracking wasn’t a routine skill being taught in law enforcement.