Kane County Sheriff’s Office, (KCSO), just recently completed another successful yearly training event. This marks the 19th year that KCSO has been training on the art of man tracking.
In 1998, three Colorado men went on a violent crime spree, killing a Cortez Colorado police officer and wounding two Montezuma County Colorado Deputies. The three men fled into Southeast Utah. Law enforcement agencies from around the West descended upon the Four Corners area. By week’s end, about 500 officers from more than 50 agencies blanketed the region. Kane County Deputies were among those helping to search for the three killers. As a result of that experience, KCSO developed a desire to learn the skill of man tracking, realizing it could be a very valuable tool in future incidents.
In 2005, KCSO conducted their first tracking training in the Johnson Canyon Area. The first few years, the training consisted of Kane County officers only with no idea of how popular the class would eventually become. The event was conducted outdoors with the participants camping out for the three days while doing classes and hands on practical exercises. After a few years, they began inviting other agencies to participate. The early years only involved about 20 students and over the last 19 years has continually grown to where the 2023 class had 46 students. The format is still similar with the students camping out with KCSO staff cooking the meals and providing the instructors. The days start early and go late with class work, hands on training, and hiking several miles each day. Each year the students leave so excited about the training, and they pass that excitement on to their fellow officers and administrators. Word of mouth has helped to build the class size to where it is today, with some officers returning to take the class a second time. The 2024 class is already full a year before it will take place.
Kane County has had the opportunity to meet and train fellow officers from all around the United States. Sheriff’s deputies, police officers, highway patrol troopers, and federal officers from the Border Patrol and U.S. Marshal’s Service have received this valuable training. The majority of the class participants are still from sheriff’s Offices and other law enforcement agencies in Utah.
In recent years, the Kane County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team (KCSAR) expressed an interest in learning how to track, believing it to be a valuable tool to help them find lost individuals. Similar to the origins of the Sheriff’s class, the KCSAR volunteers have been training themselves for several years, becoming very proficient trackers with several real-world successes in finding lost hikers. For several years, they have been asked to teach tracking skills at the yearly statewide search and rescue conference held at Fish Lake in June.
About three years ago, KCSAR started conducting their own training program a couple days before the law enforcement students would arrive in camp for the KCSO training. The 2023 search and rescue class was the first year they invited volunteers SAR members from other agencies. Twenty students from neighboring counties sheriff’s Office’s search and rescue teams participated in the training this year.
The tracking training that has been provided to SAR and law enforcement personnel over the last 19 years has proven to be very valuable. Many past students have relayed stories about how it has helped them to locate lost or fleeing persons. It’s a lot of work for the KCSO staff, but the rewards continue to outweigh the work. Sheriff Glover stated, “I am very proud of the professional work of our deputies in becoming the premier training site for tracking in the west. I’m excited for what the SAR class will develop into. We have some of the best and brightest SAR volunteers who are very dedicated to Kane County.”