UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. - A "barking" deputy who helped get four teens into custody following a car theft in University Place says this isn't his first time imitating a police K9 to get a suspect to surrender.
"I guess I have a unique skill of barking like one of our K9s," said Deputy Jason Smith who's been with the Pierce County Sheriff's Department since 2001. "I don’t really practice it and it’s not taught in the academy, but I use it on occasion."
The latest on-the-spot and creative thinking happened mid-August after a sergeant placed stop sticks to slow teens who were driving off in a stolen car. It was a successful deployment: it flattened all four tires, but the teens still sped off. They ditched the car and ran off into a wooded area.
"We’re not able to chase anymore, so we had to let the car go and found it a short time later," Smith recalled.
The deputy found a hole in the fence and was able to track the teens down to a creek bed.
"I gave orders for the kids to come up," Smith said. "When they didn’t listen, I let the dogs out."
Smith warned them he would release the K9 and then started barking.
"You can hear the sticks and branches break down in the creek where they’re at, and then I just let it go and started barking," Smith said.
It worked, too. One by one, the teens started walking out scared with their hands up only to realize that there was no K9, just a barking deputy. Smith says even his colleagues gave him odd looks.
"It’s kind of cool I didn’t think twice about doing it," Smith said.
With several years under his belt, he recalled another time his impersonation helped get a woman into custody. He says he was out on a call for a woman with a warrant who refused to come out of her home.
"I decided to bark like one of our K9s," Smith said.
That was just the beginning. He says he spotted a rake leaning up against the home and took it a step further.
"To make it sound like the dog the jumping up the side of the house and scratching it, I used the rake and I was able to get her to come outside with the barking," Smith said.