By Lt. Chris Lawler, Lakewood Police Department
On May 7th, 2011, at approximately 2:40 AM, K9 assistance was requested by the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department in the area of the 800 block of 134th Street South in Parkland. Pierce County Deputies were looking for a male that had fled on foot after a domestic violence assault. Deputies requested a K9 unit to assist them in locating the suspect. Lakewood Police Officer Jim Syler and his K9 partner Astor responded to the call.
The Lakewood Police K9 unit was briefed on the suspect description and the last known direction of travel for the fleeing suspect. The K9 unit began tracking for the suspect while deputies contained the area. While tracking in the area, deputies on containment advised that they had seen a possible suspect in the area of 132nd Street South and 10th Avenue South. They said they had seen the male on foot and then quickly disappear. A deputy in the area stated that he shined his spotlight on the male, who then went off the side of the road. Another deputy that was running with the K9 Officer saw a male walk briskly across the street. They went to the area where this person was seen and towards a heavily brushed trail. The police K9 tracked onto this trail towards a large overgrown field, by a large dirt embankment covered with thick brush that obstructed the view from the roadway. A male was located over the embankment on the trail and was contacted on the arm by Astor. As soon as the handler recognized that the male being contacted was not the fleeing suspect, Astor was called off.
Medical aid was requested for the individual that was bit and deputies stood by while the track for the suspect continued. The individual who was bit told the deputy that he had seen a police car nearby with its lights on. He stated the officer shined his spotlight at him and he ducked into the bushes to avoid being seen. The deputy asked him why he did that and he replied that he had a party at his house nearby. He stated the party was getting out of control and he left before he fought with someone. He said he thought all of the police presence in the area was because something happened at his house after he left. The deputy asked him if he thought the police in the area were looking for him and he stated he didn’t know, but they could have been.
The suspect that Pierce County was looking for on the original domestic violence assault turned himself in shortly after this occurred.
Officer Syler and his partner Astor have been working together since August of 2006. This K9 team has been deployed more than 300 times with more than 130 captures. Astor was cross trained in narcotics detection last year and has seized over 400 grams of marijuana, 60 grams of methamphetamine, and over $5000 in cash. Officer Syler and Astor are certified through the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission and are accredited through the Washington State Police Canine Association (WSPCA). Officer Syler has over ten years of experience and is a K9 trainer for the WSPCA. On 12-23-10, this K9 team received recognition for helping the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department capture a homicide suspect after a two hour K9 track.