Over 4,000 police and military from almost every law enforcement unit in the region took over a shopping center parking lot in Watertown for a staging area, looking like a minor invasion force. Represented were FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Guard, the Boston and Watertown Police departments and the Massachusetts State Police.
At least three Blackhawk helicopters patrolled the skies, and armored vehicles roamed this quiet suburban community. Men with automatic rifles went house to house, pulling residents from their homes at gunpoint, hands over heads, searching for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. For a night and a day and part of another night they closed in on Tsarnaev, who with his brother is alleged to have committed one of the most atrocious bombings in US history. But almost no one has asked one simple question: where were the bloodhounds?
Rather than "lock down" an entire city for what could have stretched on into days, why not bring in the dog or dogs that could have gotten the whole thing over in 20 minutes? Dzohkhar had fled a vehicle on foot into the surrounding neighborhood, by some accounts bleeding. This is what the bloodhound was born for.
You can't beat the dogs. You might stand a chance if you have a body of water to lose your trail in, but chances are they'll pick it up again anyway. They'll circle and run up and down the bank of a stream - you've got to get out of the water somewhere - then it's only a matter of time again, and not much time. Once you can hear them, you may as well just sit down.
I called the Massachusetts State Police Public Affairs unit to ask this question. A polite public affairs officer by the name of Officer Richards thought a moment and said: "good question." He then referred me to the FBI for any questions pertaining specifically to the case. The FBI told me to send them an email.
Bloodhounds have been known to pick up trail over 300 hours old, and can work in wet weather. I repeat: you cannot beat the dogs.
It isn't that Massachusetts didn't have any. A number of years ago we got Holly, trained and handled out of Westover. She has that slobbery thing going which is trademark to the breed, but that's part of the olfactory system which is 1,000 more sensitive than humans.
Holly would have wrapped this up in, oh, 30 minutes tops, with Dzhokhar on foot the entire time and bleeding. The vehicle was replete with fresh scent. You can send those helicopters right home. Ol' Holly''s got it covered.
Not to mention the doggie officers from adjoining states, like New Hampshire, where lost hunters or hikers in deep woods are just another day's work. The suspect was found less than a half mile from where he crashed his vehicle and ran into the neighborhood, bleeding. The owner of the boat where he was hiding said he noticed blood on his boat.
But then you couldn't practice all this lockdown stuff,
and scare the bejeezus out of people for a day. Governor Patrick, what were you thinking? Do you know how much money in man-hours that cost? The next time, call me, and I'll give you a better deal. I'll give you the five bucks myself for Holly's pay: a box of biscuits.
Note: as of writing email response not received, will update.