He’s the crime-fighting canine helping to keep the Isle of Wight safe.
Police Dog Chase is a four year old German Shepherd, chauffeured around the Island by his handler and owner, PC Kelly Bartle.
They’ve been a team on the Island for the past three years, helping prevent criminal activity, arresting those responsible and sniffing out danger.
Isle of Wight Radio’s Jamie White was invited to go behind the scenes on a night shift with the duo to learn more about the role and the types of incidents they have to deal with on a daily basis, as Jamie writes.
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It’s a normal weekday evening on the Isle of Wight and I am about to meet PD Chase and PC Bartle for the first time at Newport Police Station.
As I get into the police dog van, there are a couple of barks from Chase – just to let me know he’s there.
As we head out on patrol, it allows me to ask PC Bartle a few questions about the special relationship between her and PD Chase – and how she became a dog handler.
“I always wanted to work with animals and I saw becoming a dog handler in the police as a combination of doing that and helping people. It was actually ten years before I got to the dog section – and four attempts. I wanted it so I just kept pursuing it.
“Chase is a character and he lives to work. He always knows what is going to be asked of him and he loves it. But when it’s just us, he’s like any other dog and he enjoys playing – being out, carrying sticks – and logs! But when it’s time to work, he is on it.”
Chase is classed as a ‘General Purpose’ dog and lives with PC Bartle, in his own little mini house.
Our first stop of the evening was to meet the Island’s Search and Rescue Team – Wight SAR – who are training in woodland, allowing Chase to stretch his legs.
PC Bartle says working partner agencies is an important part of policing.
“We have a great relationship with the agents and they are vital with the searches we do over here. There are good people who do this as volunteers and they are more than happy to be guided by us about what we need from them. They have some special skills and techniques – and they always have a cup of tea ready for us as well.
“Everybody knows Chase for tracking, usually searching for criminals – chasing and detaining them. But he also searches property, missing and vulnerable people.
“Here on the Island, we have had a number of successes where he has located missing people who could’ve potentially come to serious harm.
“We had a call out once where Chase found the person we were looking for following an incident, buried deep in a hedge. We had to get the fire service out the cut them out!
“When we get a call, I always think ‘what could happen?’. We are there as a team and as I am a police officer, you have always got to be on your guard.”
The crime rate on the Isle of Wight is relatively low compared to many parts of the UK, but PC Bartle admits it can be very busy.
“You generally expect pay day weekend, bank holidays and when events are on, to be busy. But you can have days and nights where it can be non-stop. Also, when there is a full moon, it always seems to be busier! Ask any police officer and they will probably tell you the same thing.
“You can’t predict what’s going to happen. But when it is quieter, it allows us to go around and proactively patrol areas on the Island where we know there has been criminal activity – and disrupt it.
“We can be driving along and see a vehicle which seems to be going a bit too quick or perhaps has no insurance and we can then stop the driver and have a chat. We have the ability to carry out breathalyser tests for alcohol or conduct drug swipes at the roadside. ”
Chase is also a bit of a star on Twitter, amassing more than 7,000 followers (at the time of writing) on his @PD_Chase account.
“Twitter allows us to show the public the type of things Chase gets up to. I think it’s important to use social media to let people know some of the things that go on behind the scenes. It is a 24/7 job having a police dog. Twitter also allows people to see the impact we have as a team – and see some of the fun stuff too,” adds PC Bartle.
An hour or so into the shift, the first call comes in. It’s a ‘concern for welfare’ for a person who is reporting to be in distress on an Isle of Wight golf course.
The conversation stops briefly, the blue lights are flashing and the siren is activated as we pass through a set of traffic lights and make our way towards the incident. The adrenaline is pumping.
“My first thought is always, how can we help? How can we be used at this particular incident? You can usually tell straight away if it is a job that will utilise the dog.
“Chase knows when it’s time to work. He knows when the sirens go and the driving style might change to get to an incident – he’s always ready,” says PC Bartle.
We arrive and Chase is straight out of the van. We meet other two other officers at the scene and Chase leads the way across the course in windy conditions. Faint cries can be heard and within a couple of minutes, PC Bartle and Chase – on his lead – locate the person.
Other officers are able to step in to speak to the female and help her to get the support she needs. It’s a successful outcome for Chase and he is rewarded with his toy as a ‘well done’.
“This is just one example where Chase is vital. Despite quite strong winds, he was able to pick up the scent and lead us straight to the female. Without him, it would potentially take us hours,” says PC Bartle.
As my time on the shift draws to a close, we head back to Newport Police Station for a quick debriefing.
It’s been fascinating and enjoyable to learn more about the role PD Chase and PC Bartle play in keeping the Isle of Wight a safe place to live.