Monday, May 09, 2011

Excitement in the River Valley

Those of us in Edmonton have noticed the excitement of project KARE's arrival in the river valley this morning. Several tents, command centers, and cord ones have been set-up, and search dogs have been brought in. But the organization, created to investigate local deaths but expanded to include missing persons, is not saying what they are there for, except to dispel rumors that connect the search to Master Corporal Richard Curnow who went missing Thursday, May 5th while on a training run.

It's pretty exciting stuff, considering how rare the use of tracking dogs is, but if they are not searching for Mcpl Curnow, the only person missing recently enough to leave a scent trail that the dogs could follow, there are only a few reasons to bring in search and rescue dogs, and none of them are good.

From the pictures of the search the dog is one of two common SAR breeds: German Shepard or Belgian Malinois. If the dogs are Malinois, there is only one realistic purpose for bringing them out: to uncover IEDs. Considering the pipe bomb that was found and detonated on the Groat Road Bridge, and the unlikeliness that a bomber who would go to the trouble of making a bomb would get distracted after one failure and 'move on', the notion that RCMP received a bomb tip and are now frantically combing the area is not as far-fetched as those of us who like to consider Edmonton a 'sheltered city' would like to believe.

If the dogs are German Shepards, however, their mandate is much wider including ground or air-based tracking, drug sniffing, or locating human remains. The timeline of the investigation, they began to plan this search three weeks ago, suggests that it is most likely a cadaver search, if it is not bomb disposal. I have jogged through the river valley so let me be the first to say its a little creepy to imagine bodies lurking nearby. Not as creepy, however, as the idea of some attention starved moron planting home-made bombs around.

My main question remains, why are they so quick to distance themselves from the search for Mcpl Curnow? Project KARE typically only involves itself with high-risk missing persons (prostitutes or persons in the drug trade) but it sends a poor message when the search for a solider who went overseas twice in the service of our country is called off after only a weekend, with no conclusive leads and no explanation of likely scenarios.

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