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View Full Version : State police operations, FBI, helicopters, National Parks???



afarnam
01-08-2014, 01:08 AM
Okay, any brave soul want to take a crack at this? :)

Does anyone know what happens if a group of three armed fugitives and some unarmed others were to end up fleeing on foot through a National Forest within 50 miles of the Canadian border? The FBI is theoretically after this group in the larger sense but in the past couple of hours someone tipped off the State Police (think Montana) to the location of a rural compound where the outlaws were hanging out. Whether or not the State Police would normally act on this or just pass it on to the FBI, I need someone in the hierarchy who is way too power drunk to decide to go after them immediately without waiting for reinforcements. But the outlaws are warned. They try to flee in vehicles but get trapped in small Forest Service tracks and finally flee into the National Forest on foot. They end up with about a two-hour lead by confusing the police with some remote-controlled explosions.

So, my scenario is that the State Police are searching this National Forest for the fugitives with a helicopter, just one at first, then later maybe a couple more, if that is realistic. The fewer the better though really. My plot requires the fugitives to get away.

First, would the State Police ever be allowed to be doing this on federal land? Should I scratch this idea and have someone else involved instead? I can't really do a massive FBI hunt. It would take too long to get it going in such a remote area and, if it was going fast enough, it would probably be too effective and my fugitives wouldn't get away.

Second, if they are searching with a helicopter and they don't know what the fugitives look like (the famous leaders of the gang aren't among the group fleeing on foot) they are going to have a problem because there are all kinds of hikers out there (this is August) and they can't tell the fugitives form innocent hikers. Is it reasonable to say that they have loudspeakers and go around blaring at groups of hikers to leave the National Forest because a police investigation is going on?

How good is the infrared technology, if you're thinking of a State Police helicopter that has been summoned at very short notice? Have they got it at all? How much detail of an individual person can they see with it? At what distance can they tell people from large game?

Would such a helicopter have guns? I'm assuming not. That's military, right?

Any ideas or bits of information most welcome. Thanks.

Arie

Los Pollos Hermanos
01-08-2014, 03:41 AM
I can't help with the nitty gritty of the storyline (sounds good though!) but, when I wanted to know how the FBI would close in on my Bad Guy, I emailed them.

http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2008/october/a-guide-for-writers-authors-and-producers

After exchanging a couple of emails with a very pleasant lady in the Office of Public Affairs, my questions were passed on to a real live agent...

...who actually phoned me! One of the most surreal experiences of my life and an absolutely fascinating conversation. He confirmed some things I had researched, dispelled a couple of relatively minor errors/misconceptions and gave me a new angle to work from. As a result, BG's days are numbered.

Good luck!

King Neptune
01-08-2014, 03:45 AM
The State Police would be able to do that, if they were in hot pursuit, or if the feds were not available. A national park is still in the state, even though the feds have primary jurisdiction.

If they don't know what the fugitives look like, then how will they know whether they scared them off with their loudspeakers?

cornflake
01-08-2014, 07:50 AM
The staties will do that, yes.

The loudspeaker thing isn't reasonable, no, for a few reasons. First, I have this sort of idea you may not have actually been in, say, Glacier. There's no, 'you can't tell fugitives because there are hikers all about.' National parks, and especially national forest land of the type you're talking (like, not Yellowstone around popular campgrounds or the Grand Canyon ridge), are big. Really, really, really big. Even when populated, they're not populated.

Second, a loudspeaker won't do you any good because it hits a very small area and you don't know where the hell they are.

Third, how the heck are people supposed to leave the forest? Someone could be 10 miles off a road. They're supposed to be all 'oh, okie, I'll hurry toward a road, then another 10 miles to the edge of the forest?' No one would, even if this were possible.

Finally, what good would it do even if people heard it and did? If I'm the fugitive you're after, and I'm hiding in the forest, hear the loudspeaker and figure out that you don't know what I look like, I'm fleeing the forest with all the other theoretical hikers, because see above you don't know what I look like. See Quick Change, by Jay Cronley.

In a general sense, for how little likelihood there is that a bunch of cops are going to find people who've gone to ground in a forest of that size, if the fugitives have any idea what they're doing (a rural compound suggests they may), check the story of Eric Rudolph.

afarnam
01-08-2014, 10:03 AM
Okay, thanks.

BUT I've hiked national forests quite a bit. You are on trails and you meet other hikers, sometimes several times a day. Depends on the season and the popularity of the spot, but the police can't be sure a group of people are the fugitives, even if they are roughly in the right area, so I am thinking they come in low, where a group of people can hear them. (No, I wasn't thinking they'd just blare their loudspeakers out into the wilderness.) They would be talking to specific groups of hikers, they encountered. Part of the point of this, in my thinking, would be that they don't actually know if any of the recognizable outlaws are with the fugitives. They're coming in for a closer look with binoculars. And they are hoping they could tell by the reactions of the fugitives.

Also, the forest is big but not the area the fugitives could cover with their little lead time. They are pretty much stuck in a canyon. The police can work this out. Then, they get to the head of the canyon and climb out because if they stay in there the police are eventually going to have enough reinforcements to get them. When they climb onto the high dry ridge. That is when a helicopter can see them best and that's about the time when the cops have figured out where they've gone. So, it is reasonable that the helicopter might spot them, just unlikely they would be sure they had their guys.

One reason the cops want to clear the area is that they think they can see by the reactions of the fugitives to this instruction that they aren't hikers. The other reason is that they know that hikers have vehicles to go to, generally. The fugitives no longer do. And if they can clear the area, they can bring in reinforcements and not be so worried that some hiker is going to get shot.

Now, "fugitives hiding in the forest". A lot of the forest here is very sparse and dry, bad place to hide for a couple miles. And my biggest question is about what sort of infrared technology the State Police would have. If they have that it doesn't really matter if the forest is thick. I've read that once they get a lock on a particular individual with infrared technology, they can just follow them wherever. But I don't know how much they can see to try to ID an individual with that technology.

Anybody know about this infrared stuff?

Okay, now, here's the really interesting issue. EVEN IF the State Police with their helicopter thought they had IDed the fugitives. What could they do exactly? They could land I suppose and come after them on foot but that doesn't seem like something they'd try. The fugitives are armed and how many cops are going to be in the helicopter?

Would they shoot at them, if they are considered "armed and immediately dangerous"? Is a helicopter of that type equipped to shoot? I would think that would only be for military helicopters.

Oh, and, of course, could the fugitives do any damage to the helicopter coming in low over them with a couple of Uzis, if they decided to give away their location by shooting at it?

Many thanks!

cornflake
01-08-2014, 10:26 AM
Okay, thanks.

BUT I've hiked national forests quite a bit.

Have you hiked them in the area we're talking about? You mentioned Montana - I'm picturing by Glacier.


You are on trails and you meet other hikers, sometimes several times a day. Depends on the season and the popularity of the spot, but the police can't be sure a group of people are the fugitives, even if they are roughly in the right area, so I am thinking they come in low, where a group of people can hear them. (No, I wasn't thinking they'd just blare their loudspeakers out into the wilderness.) They would be talking to specific groups of hikers, they encountered. Part of the point of this, in my thinking, would be that they don't actually know if any of the recognizable outlaws are with the fugitives. They're coming in for a closer look with binoculars. And they are hoping they could tell by the reactions of the fugitives.

I don't see how this is possible - it's summer in your scenario. How in the heck can they see people in a forest with binoculars from a helicopter, nevermind get low enough to speak to them? I agree you can meet other hikers on trails depending on season and popularity but we're still talking about a huge, incredibly dense area.


Also, the forest is big but not the area the fugitives could cover with their little lead time. They are pretty much stuck in a canyon. The police can work this out. Then, they get to the head of the canyon and climb out because if they stay in there the police are eventually going to have enough reinforcements to get them. When they climb onto the high dry ridge. That is when a helicopter can see them best and that's about the time when the cops have figured out where they've gone. So, it is reasonable that the helicopter might spot them, just unlikely they would be sure they had their guys.

Now I'm confused - a canyon of what type? Where is this?


One reason the cops want to clear the area is that they think they can see by the reactions of the fugitives to this instruction that they aren't hikers. The other reason is that they know that hikers have vehicles to go to, generally. The fugitives no longer do. And if they can clear the area, they can bring in reinforcements and not be so worried that some hiker is going to get shot.

This is just not happening - wanting to see the reaction, thinking that yelling at groups of people from a helicopter to get out of the forest (and again, where are they meant to go?) would make some people react in some specific, different way that'd tell them something.

Also, again where you're talking about, I'd say it's as safe a bet as not that hikers do not have vehicles to go to, at least anyplace within a day's walk.


Now, "fugitives hiding in the forest". A lot of the forest here is very sparse and dry, bad place to hide for a couple miles. And my biggest question is about what sort of infrared technology the State Police would have. If they have that it doesn't really matter if the forest is thick. I've read that once they get a lock on a particular individual with infrared technology, they can just follow them wherever. But I don't know how much they can see to try to ID an individual with that technology.


I'm not sure where you are (I dunno if the location tag is correct), but the forest you're talking about is neither sparse nor dry. Even if they were using this kind of technology, it does matter, because there's more than one person, there are animals, and warm things can get cover under cool things and then you're out of luck. Also, what'd they do that there's this level of search being mounted, just btw?



Okay, now, here's the really interesting issue. EVEN IF the State Police with their helicopter thought they had IDed the fugitives. What could they do exactly? They could land I suppose and come after them on foot but that doesn't seem like something they'd try. The fugitives are armed and how many cops are going to be in the helicopter?

Would they shoot at them, if they are considered "armed and immediately dangerous"? Is a helicopter of that type equipped to shoot? I would think that would only be for military helicopters.


They're not going to shoot at people who aren't doing anything except in the most extreme of circumstances.

Dunno about the uzis and the helicopter; I'd think it depends on what kind of helicopter and what range.

afarnam
01-08-2014, 10:51 AM
Haha. One can write from a place other than where one grew up. :) I'm from the Northwest. I haven't hiked that specific canyon but definitely have been in the area.

It is west of Glacier = Kootenai National Forest. A look on GoogleEarth makes it very clear that the ridges are very sparse. You can see down to the ground under the trees even with the satellite images and those are clearly from summer. Any time but summer there is snow there.

How could Western Montana not be dry? There is some heavier cover in canyons. If that messes up the infrared technology all the better.

As for talking at someone through a loudspeaker from a helicopter, give me a break. Are you saying every movie where the cops did that was wrong? I can think of half a dozen such scenes of the top of my head. But I've heard that even more common movie tricks than that are stupid, so you could be right. Still this is on top of a ridge. It is easy to get close. They could probably land if they wanted to. Not many trees. The fugitives actually don't run away, precisely because, as I said, they are counting on being indistinguishable from hikers and don't want to act scared.

Okay, anyone wanna take a stab at what the State Police in their helicopter are going to do if they think they know that they have spotted the fugitives? I can't really describe what they've done without a huge long explanation, but think very extreme. The cops will stop at nothing to get them, although they would prefer them alive in order to get info on the bigger fish. It isn't so much what they've done even as what they think they are likely to do if they get away. That's why I'm thinking in terms of guns, but I'm not sure how that technically works with a police helicopter.

Trebor1415
01-08-2014, 11:25 AM
In general, the rules of engagement for law enforcement does would not allow them to fire at the suspects in your scenario unless the officers believed lives were in danger and deadly force was needed to protect those lives. Obviously, this is meet if the suspects fire first. There may be some leeway with the fact that they are escaped prisoners, but I would check it out more carefully before writing it that way.

A police helicopter is typically not armed. The passengers of course would be armed. They may have pistols or they may also have some AR-15 type semi-auto (or even full auto) rifles they brought along. It is very difficult to fire from a moving helicopter and hit anything.

As far as shooting at the helicopter. Helicopters are vulnerable to small arms fire. A rifle, such as an AR-15, an AK 47, or even a hunting rifle would be more dangerous to a helicopter than a SMG like a UZI though. That is because an UZI fires pistol caliber ammunition, which is less powerful than rifle ammo. An UZI would be less accurate and have less of a chance of hitting a flying helicopter, unless it was very close. (Like, if it was landing nearby)

However, helicopter pilots are aware of the vulnerability of helicopters to rifle fire and if they are being shot at their first reaction is most likely to fly away, out of range, and not to press in closer. There are exceptions of course, but that would be typical.

I also have some problems with your "shouting at hikers with bullhorns" scenario. It just doesn't sound like something they'd do, to me. Be aware though that the helicopter might have a sound system set up for some reason to make something like that easier.

I'd figure out what police agency owns the helicopter in your story and contact them and see how their helicopters are outfitted and flown. You can change that to fit the story, but it would be good to know the reality of it. They probably would also have advice on how they'd conduct such a search or chase.

EDIT: Oh, and my understanding is that infrared technology (google FLIR) works best at night. You need a large difference between the body heat of the person and the background to see the subject. That's why it's often used to search for lost hikers at night, or in the winter, etc. During the day I don't know how well it would work or if it would work at all. A little googling of helicopter FLIR systems might help.

EDIT 2: As to what the police in the helicopter might do, they may land or hover to drop off police to chase the fugatives or, more likely, put them in an "ambush" position in the direction the fugatives are headed, especially if there is a natural choke point. The police would have to be gutsy, and feel they are well armed enough and there are enough of them to do this. They'd also have to do it in such a way that the bad guys can't tell what they are doing.

afarnam
01-08-2014, 11:43 AM
Good. I don't want the fugitives caught but I do want them pretty worried about the helicopter showing up. I want the shooting at the fugitives to be only theoretical danger they are worried about. Under the extreme circumstances of the story it is reasonable that if it is possible to shoot from a helicopter, this is something they would have to worry about. It is very unlikely (haven't planned entire sequence but I don't foresee it) that they would try to shoot at the helicopter but I wanted to know what they would be thinking in terms of how effective their weapons would be.

As for the helicopter sound system, I'm going for realism but not to extreme. They get to have a sound system. I definitely want them to come up close to this group (not knowing but definitely suspecting that they are the fugitives) and say something over the sound system. This is the key issue of the plot and character development. I'm just not real sure what they would say. Maybe they tell them they are suspected and had better show that they aren't armed. Something like that?

Trebor1415
01-08-2014, 12:39 PM
I'm just not real sure what they would say. Maybe they tell them they are suspected and had better show that they aren't armed. Something like that?

At that point, the cops would likely order them to put their hands up, go to their knees, and then go prone on their stomachs on the ground, with a lot of "Do it Now!" thrown in.

That's basic felony stop procedure. This assumes they can land close enough to take control of the suspects or have backup on the ground that can take control.

They aren't just going to go, "Ok, if you are hikers, show me empty hands," and fly off once they see the hands are empty.

If they think these are the suspects, they'll do a felony stop, approach at gunpoint, cuff 'em and determine the ID. If they are the wrong people they'll cut 'em loose and move on.

afarnam
01-08-2014, 01:15 PM
Okay, maybe they just come in for a real close look and then fly away. Regular hikers would be a bit freaked out by this but that's how it goes. Are you sure they woudn't say something, if they decided they were probably just hikers?

(I'm telling you, sometimes the authorities in the rural northwest can do some weird stuff. For instance, last summer, we had a situation where a rescue helicopter came into a small mountain lake and landed in a sand parking lot right by where little kids were swimming in the water. There was huge backwash with sand, mud and sticks flying all over the place and big waves in the water. An off-duty firefighter (my source on this) had to jump in to get a kid who was drowning. Her husband got trapped in the water with another small child between the dock and a boat could barely keep the boat from crushing him and the kid against the dock with the waves. Definitely endangering bystanders in general. The helicopter was responding to a cell phone call about a drowning on the other side of the lake but the swimmers in that area didn't know there was any crisis. Come to think of it, they had a sound system and the main thing my firefighter friend was upset about was that they didn't use it to warn people to get out of the water before they landed right there, so maybe there is a thing about using such a system.)

Maybe in my more fictional scenario they would use the sound system to warn supposed hikers that there are dangerous armed fugitives around and that they should "consider" returning to their vehicles? I was once camping by a roadway and a cop woke us up at night and told us we had probably better move because there was a fugitive around. It wasn't an order, just friendly advice.

afarnam
01-08-2014, 01:17 PM
.

melindamusil
01-08-2014, 11:57 PM
Not a hiker and not involved in law enforcement, but...
Wouldn't it be common for modern hikers to carry some sort of radio? Weather radio/AM radio, satellite radio, some kind of GPS beacon...
Couldn't your police just put out a message/warning over the radio warning about the fugitive on the loose? Seems to me that would be much more efficient than a loudspeaker.

melindamusil
01-09-2014, 12:08 AM
(I'm telling you, sometimes the authorities in the rural northwest can do some weird stuff. For instance, last summer, we had a situation where a rescue helicopter came into a small mountain lake and landed in a sand parking lot right by where little kids were swimming in the water. There was huge backwash with sand, mud and sticks flying all over the place and big waves in the water. An off-duty firefighter (my source on this) had to jump in to get a kid who was drowning. Her husband got trapped in the water with another small child between the dock and a boat could barely keep the boat from crushing him and the kid against the dock with the waves. Definitely endangering bystanders in general. The helicopter was responding to a cell phone call about a drowning on the other side of the lake but the swimmers in that area didn't know there was any crisis. Come to think of it, they had a sound system and the main thing my firefighter friend was upset about was that they didn't use it to warn people to get out of the water before they landed right there, so maybe there is a thing about using such a system.)

There is a type of GPS warning beacon that hikers can take with them, in case they need assistance. I've read that, in some cases, law enforcement is getting irritated with these because some (many?) hikers will use them in non-emergency situations (like running out of s'mores). In one case, after their third (non-)emergency response to a particular group, the group was forcibly removed from the wilderness.



Maybe in my more fictional scenario they would use the sound system to warn supposed hikers that there are dangerous armed fugitives around and that they should "consider" returning to their vehicles? I was once camping by a roadway and a cop woke us up at night and told us we had probably better move because there was a fugitive around. It wasn't an order, just friendly advice.
Not a lawyer, but in the US, can the police force a person/group to move if they're not causing trouble? I'm not sure where that would fall on the scale of "rights". If you're not under arrest, can the police force you to go somewhere?

Trebor1415
01-09-2014, 12:08 AM
I think I'm just not understanding part of your scenario. If they are approaching people they *think* are the suspects, they'd do a felony stop.

But, yes, if they are just flying up to whatever hikers they see, they probably wouldn't, as it would take too long to do that many felony stops. What would they do? I dunno.

At this point I think your best bet is to talk to someone in a police agency that does helicopter ops and see what they say they'd do.

afarnam
01-09-2014, 12:50 AM
Okay, thanks. :) Yes, I see the problem.

I think whether or not they do a felony stop probably depends on if they can enforce it (i.e. do they point guns at them and tell them to put their hands up or on the ground or something and then either try to land while maintaining that or lower a couple of cops out of the helicopter to go secure them.) Either of those attempts would fail miserably with these fugitives, who would either run for better cover while the helicopter landed or shoot anyone being lowered out of the helicopter regardless of the risk of being shot back. The best bet the cops would have would be to get a visual on any groups they thought might be the fugitives and try to keep tabs on them until reinforcements could arrive, either by land or in the form of more helicopters. I'll see if I can get anything more specific.

Thanks again, I was mainly checking to see if there were any major details I had overlooked or major technological revolutions, since I was a conflict reporter in the 2000-2003 era.

ironmikezero
01-09-2014, 01:22 AM
Wow, so many issues and assumptions here, I'm not sure where to begin...

Let's start with... Why are they fugitives? What laws did they break? Who are they - are their true identities known? What positive identifiers are available (fingerprints, DNA, etc.)? Are their current physical descriptions known? Their criminal histories? Background information, known/suspected associates?

This all matters because some agency will have primary investigative and/or apprehension responsibility. Appropriate manpower and resources will be allocated and adjusted accordingly. And most importantly, the hunt aspect of the investigation cannot commence until the quarry is confirmed.

If you want the FBI to be the lead agency, your offenders would have to be the subjects of an ongoing FBI investigation. The FBI will generally not balk at any offered state or local assistance once the subjects are in fugitive status (exceptions do occasionally exist, on a case by case basis).

If any other federal agency is the lead investigative agency, the apprehension responsibility is typically turned over to the US Marshals Service (USMS), who hunt most federal fugitives. In fact, they have regional fugitive task forces (USMS/RFTF) that include representative investigators from applicable regional state and local agencies who are specially deputized to exercise federal authority (beyond their inherent state/local authority) when warranted.

If your offenders have only violated state/local laws, the lead state/local agency may request federal assistance (pretty much a protocol requirement if the hunt leads into a National Park). It's not the least bit unusual for such a situation to be accepted as a Fugitive Task Force case.

Logistics matter, too... Who is responsible for the manpower overtime, maintenance/distribution of available resources, food/lodging/fuel, etc..? Who's going to deal with the inevitable flood of media personnel? Operational security and media relations?

Deploying helicopters isn't cheap - and there's always a bill. FLIR works extremely well - especially at night in that area (it gets very cool/cold at those elevations - I've seen snow and freezing rain in August in the Bitterroots).

Of course, if it's a significant enough case, surveillance drones and/or satellite deployments are within the federal toolbox.

It doesn't take as long as you might think to get manpower to a given area. USMS Task Force and/or FBI Field Office personnel can be on the scene in hours; a more comprehensive response (FBI/SRT/HRT and/or USMS/SRT/SOG) in 12-24 hours (sometimes less). As for civilians/hikers found in the area - everyone is held until positively identified and interviewed (some may be possible witnesses).

I know this is somewhat succinct and may not address all of your concerns, but it should give you some sort of baseline to consider (from a law enforcement perspective). Best of Luck!

afarnam
01-09-2014, 10:47 AM
ironmikezero, thanks a lot. This is a good start.

Okay, say the FBI is after a group that they consider to be terrorism related. They know particularly about one individual who is supposed to be in charge. He has been around for quite awhile and has been very hard to get information on. They have a name, which he is known by but obviously isn't his real name. They have some images of him, either bad photos or sketches but these don't seem to match. each other very well. They know he has a small group of co-conspirators who actually know him well and if they can apprehend one of that group they'll finally have something to go on. The State Police, not the FBI, get a tip off from a reliable source about a rural compound in Montana, tucked right up into the Kootenai National Forest (there bits of private property around the edges) saying that is one of bases. They know he is likely to find out very quickly that they have the information (say he has people in the system who pass information to him or they suspect he does), so they want to act immediately. They send out several vehicles and a helicopter to try to at least besiege the compound.

But the outlaw guy does learn of the tip-off, isn't at the compound and warns his associates to get out. They flee and set up explosives to blow the place up. They try to drive out (on little dirt Forest Services roads) but soon can hear the approach of police and the helicopter. They (think 3 armed people and a couple more unarmed) realize that they can't drive out because both access roads have police on them. They don't think they can fight their way out or don't want to, so they turn and drive further into the forest. They park at the end of a road in a canyon, where their license plates (license plates show the registration as belonging to someone unknown in Missoula) have no permit to park but hidden from the air.

They then start running up the canyon. They have a little time because the police go toward the compound. Explosions go off as they approach. They check it out and then start searching the area. They don't know if the fugitives got out entirely before they blocked the roads, left on foot from the compound or what. They search and within say an hour or two they find the vehicles. They suspect them because they are parked illegally. They theorize that the fugitives might have gone up that canyon and the local guys can tell they would be trapped into a five mile canyon (too steep and exposed to climb out on the sides). They fly to the end, where the fugitives would come up a steep ridge (there is sort of a trail). They see three hikers headed down into the canyon. They come in close, look... (These are inreality just hikers). They fly on up over the ridge. They see a group of seven strung out in a sparse barren area (several miles of open ridge top with only a few scraggly trees you can't hide under that has to be crossed). They come in close, try to get faces but can't see much. They've got hats with brims (like most hikers), backpacks, a couple of them shield their eyes from the sun. They wave and act friendly.

These are in fact the fugitives but I'm figuring the police can't figure this out. They have physical descriptions of two people in the group plus some very grainy security camera footage but they don't know that those two are with this group and can't see faces much anyway. They highly suspect these could be the fugitives. They are in about the right spot. The other group was too small and headed the wrong way. They can't see weapons but they believe these guys generally are armed with foldable Uzis and hand guns. The group is very mixed in terms of race, which they expect from what they know of the fugitives. But even if they knew they were the fugitives, they probably couldn't stop them right now. The police on the ground are slower, so the helicopter is mainly trying to get visual contact with groups that could be the fugitives and then keep tabs on them and lead ground forces to them.

So, my original question was would the police in the helicopter say anything to people they thought might be the fugitives but theoretically could be hikers? They might want to lull the fugitives into a false sense of security by making them believe the police are totally convinced by their act of friendly hikerness. That's what I was thinking. If they were just going to keep tabs on them, they wouldn't want them to know exactly that and they can't be sure, so I'm assuming the helicopter will fly away but stay in the area and return to track where the group is going. They will eventually have more trouble because the group will go down into trees. Then, it will get dark. Infrared technology might work then. Real hikers won't be moving at that point. These guys stop and use emergency blankets (that reflect heat and a partial rock outcrop to hide). I'm hoping that means the police have little luck in the dark but have a general idea of the area where they think the fugitives have gone. (The police suspect and are correct in this thinking because it is really obvious for several reasons that the group is headed for the Canadian border.)

Okay, my POV and focus is on the fugitives, not the police. I don't know the whole financing of the police and all that. I know it is good to know all background but that's not gonna happen. I am saying this is a top priority for the FBI. Whatever finances there are can be available. It depends on how long it takes to muster those, go through channels, physically get them to the area, etc... The more realistic I can get on what would happen on the police/FBI end, the more realistic I can make the experience of the fugitives.

Many many thanks.

Arie

cornflake
01-09-2014, 11:05 AM
Wait, hold up. You said they'd done stuff that was 'extreme,' and they're fugitives, but from this -


Okay, say the FBI is after a group that they consider to be terrorism related. They know particularly about one individual who is supposed to be in charge. He has been around for quite awhile and has been very hard to get information on. They have a name, which he is known by but obviously isn't his real name. They have some images of him, either bad photos or sketches but these don't seem to match. each other very well. They know he has a small group of co-conspirators who actually know him well and if they can apprehend one of that group they'll finally have something to go on.

It not only sounds like they're not fugitives, but that they haven't done anything at all?

I'm confused. The stuff you want I suspect isn't happening in the case you describe, as I'm reading it. How are they apprehending these people, based on what, with what?

afarnam
01-09-2014, 12:52 PM
They did. But they didn't get caught or leave much physical evidence. That is why they don't know who they are. They broke into a government installation, shot guards, absconded with some really important stuff which they could use to do further destructive things, and they are planning to do much the same in the future. (I'm not telling you who the "good guys" are. It doesn't matter. The good guys are not always the cops and visa versa.)

The reason for the pursuit is a plot issue. I can handle that. It doesn't even particularly matter if it would be legal. This is a somewhat alternative reality story and legal could change. But I need to figure out what is TECHNICALLY possible because this isn't science fiction. Any advice on that is most welcome. :)

WeaselFire
01-09-2014, 10:56 PM
Helicopters are used as eyes, not as communication tools. If an area is in question, there are boots on the ground to determine the situation. Any agency could be involved in the search and yes, loudspeakers on helicopters in the movies are all wrong.

Jeff

ironmikezero
01-09-2014, 11:17 PM
Playing the terrorism card changes the game and ups the ante. No one found in the area will be treated as anything but a potential threat until proven otherwise.

Resources will not be a problem; and now Homeland Security (DHS) will be involved. Certain military assets/support will become available. Border Patrol's tactical unit (BORTAC) and Canadian authorities will become involved in an effort to seal the border. Don't underestimate the proficiency of the potential Canadian response; they are swift and effective.

You should be aware that pursuit will not be limited to aerial surveillance and personnel deploying from helicopters; mounted pursuit and K9 tracking teams will participate in increasing numbers.

As the media spins up the story, some wilderness savvy locals who routinely hunt game in the region may take more than an active interest in your band of miscreants - there's nothing so challenging as hunting a human being.

Keep in mind that there is big game in that area - most of it dangerous - that will be on the move, displaced by the flood of armed humanity.

The likelihood of escape is inversely proportionate to the staggering increase in deployed resources. Time is not on the terrorists' side.

You can ratchet up the tension appreciably, but you're going to need a very creative idea to arrive at a plausible plot twist and acceptable resolution. Again, the best of luck!

afarnam
01-10-2014, 02:01 AM
Yup, that is about what I thought would happen. Again, the reason I think I can work it so the fugitives escape is primarily because the authorities have very little physical evidence to work with. They could discover them by a search of their persons but not by a simple face to face meeting. So, the authorities are going to have to search every hiker they come across. They will have to travel in large groups because these guys are going to be able to wipe out a group of a couple of agents pretty easily, although the noise will tend to narrow the search. And again, as you say, this area is huge. The border is virtually non-existent physically and they can't line up agents across the whole effected 100 miles of it. But, yes, as they get closer to the border that's going to be an issue.

Any details on the K9 tracking teams? I'll google it but anything specific about how they do things would be very interesting.

As for wildlife, I have an awesome incident to use that rally happened to my family.

afarnam
01-10-2014, 02:02 AM
Umm... Yeah, and anyone know about the legalities of searching every hiker they come across? I can't see this going over real well in the rural west, terrorism or no terrorism.

King Neptune
01-10-2014, 03:53 AM
Umm... Yeah, and anyone know about the legalities of searching every hiker they come across? I can't see this going over real well in the rural west, terrorism or no terrorism.

Searching like that wouldn't go over well anywhere in the U.S. Anything found in such a search could not be used in any trial, so they might catch the guys, but they wouldn't be able to convict them, would have trouble getting a conviction anyway unless they have more and better evidence .

afarnam
01-10-2014, 11:09 AM
There has got to be a chemical or something the fugitives could use to throw off K9 tracking. Anyone know?

drummerdad
01-13-2014, 03:02 AM
I am not an expert, but I do work at a helicopter finishing station, and I have worked on several Police, FBI, and Homeland security helicopters. Obviously I cannot go into specific details, but I can offer a little advice that might make your scenario more accurate.
Most helicopters we have built for any law enforcement have several features that would be used in your story. They have loud speakers, and they are loud. It would not be a problem hearing them from a few hundred feet above ground, even with the noise of the blades and engine. The loud speaker can project voice as well as siren noises, usually.
Also they usually have a very large spot light. These things are so powerful, they can actually melt plastic and aluminum if pointed at the wrong thing for too long.
As for the camera, yes they are thermal. But they do work during the day. They are usually cooled with argon, or a similar inert gas. This allows the operator to use them during the daytime as well. The thermal lense is only looking for a difference in temperature. I'm not sure how much, but if you research FLIR camera systems, I would think the information they have publically available would be fairly accurate.
A few things you might not know. Most law enforcement helicopters are, or can be equipped with, rapelling fixtures, and external hoists, because most of them double as rescue vehicles as well. But any officer who is riding in one will be trained to repell from it, and probably shoot from it also.
All of this combined, and they will find you. You will have to find a way to beat the thermal camera. Mythbusters once used a fire extinguisher for this. It was surprisingly effective. Maybe a conveniently placed cave.
As for the FBIs involvment, they might be involved with local law enforcement. If your scenario is set close enough to an FBI base, and that would be one that houses an aviation branch, they will have their own helicopters. If they are not close enough to their own facility, they can usually get help from a local law enforcement team with a helicopter. Most rescue and police helicopters are similarly equipped, and they work hand in hand with other authority branches. Also news helicopters usually have an infrared camera as well, just in case. I cannot see a scenario where there would be more than two or three helicopters on the scene. The sky gets crowded, and there have been incidents where they flew into each other. Safety would dictate, depending on how much airspace they have over the targets.
And don't overlook satellite survailence. Or UAVs. Hope this helps.

frimble3
01-13-2014, 04:30 AM
Border Patrol's tactical unit (BORTAC) and Canadian authorities will become involved in an effort to seal the border. Don't underestimate the proficiency of the potential Canadian response; they are swift and effective.

I've been waiting since the OP said '50 miles from the Canadian border' for someone to suggest contacting the Canadians. Thank you. Even if the suspects are supposedly in an 'inescapable' canyon, well, that's when they usually make good their escape, isn't it?
Fifty miles, then they cross at any one of those unwatched bits of border. If the RCMP and Canadian Border Services know they're coming, at the very least, they'll on the lookout for them..

cornflake
01-13-2014, 10:09 AM
All of this combined, and they will find you.

How long was Eric Rudolph on the lam? How long until they found Steve Fossett? I realize there wasn't an FBI manhunt, nor was it mostly forest - yet unlimited funds and well-connected aviation and government and law enforcement people and it was still, iirc, a random hiker who found not only him but a plane, and Fossett hadn't moved. I admit thermal imaging wasn't useful.

I'm not saying it's not possible, just that the idea it's impossible to successfully escape into the wilderness if you know what you're doing seems unlikely given the history of such things.

afarnam
01-13-2014, 11:18 AM
... a random hiker who found not only him but a plane, and Fossett hadn't moved. I admit thermal imaging wasn't useful.

I'm not saying it's not possible, just that the idea it's impossible to successfully escape into the wilderness if you know what you're doing seems unlikely given the history of such things.

I don't think it is that unlikely to escape. When you look at the scenarios where fugitives are caught in wilderness, they are usually like that (found with a plane? No wonder. Found randomly by a hiker? Some police hunt). This and the fact that the US military has this technology in Afghanistan and Pakistan and has a very hard time finding specific people, even when they don't have to be "as careful" about random civilians. My setting is huge. And there is little physical evidence for K9 teams until a few days into it when some is discovered.

No, it's not an inescapable canyon. It has only one escape and that is predictable to Forest Service guys that only an idiot state cop would ignore. But there are other hikers in the area. This is within the first hour and then they disappear into some pretty wild country with lots of trees, rock overhangs, narrow canyons. As far as law enforcement knows they could go to two different small towns and try to meet up with their cohorts, or they might have vehicles hidden somewhere (they don't but how are the cops to know this). Also, for the first day or so, law enforcement can't be sure they didn't slip through their net by vehicle. They also caused an explosion, and that has to be investigated, to see if they were killed in it. So, there are a lot of scenarios that law enforcement has to take into account, beyond the actual one: naturally, they are headed for Canada.

So, frimble3, any hints on Canadian response in the area would be great. Does it look about the same as what happens on the US side? The problem is that the suspected area just gets bigger and bigger the longer it goes on. I haven't counted much on the Canadians standing much of a chance because of that. I have my fugitives fairly quickly find some of their allies in Canada.

Thanks a lot, drummerdad, that is about what I thought. I was a war reporter in the Balkans, so I am not entirely ignorant of realities, just better with military stuff than police. I don't think infrared is going to do them much good in the Montana mountains in August in the daytime because the temp differences are going to be very little or nil. Do you have any idea if those silver heat-reflective survival blankets (turned wrong-side out) would be useful for foiling infrared at night when temperatures in that area shift dramatically? I don't know the technology that well but it stands to reason that it would. Large dead-falls of trees, of which there are plenty in the area, are also almost as helpful as caves, I'm told. I can't rely only on caves for the plausibility of escape because it will take them several days to get where they are going.

Oodles of thanks to all. :)

drummerdad
01-13-2014, 03:54 PM
I didn't mean to imply you couldn't get away. Just that most criminals on the run won't have an indepth knowledge of what tricks the authorities can bring to bear on a man hunt, provided they feel the need. And the fugatives will usually make a mistake.
As for the thermal blanket, I'm not really sure. It seems plausable, except where would they get one in the middle of a forest? But the same goes for a fire extinguisher too. Any way they can lower their heat signature should work. Maybe smearing cold mud on themselves would help. There would be plenty of that, just keep in mind it would have to be repeated ever so often to keep the temperature down. It could double as camoflauge as well.
And I have worked on a non military mapping camera system,that had thermal imaging that could "see" almost three feet below the surface of the ground. This system was accurate to about 1/16 of an inch at a thousand feet of altitude. It was not video, only still pictures, but he was able to overlay the thermal image onto a still picture to show areas of thermal inconsistency. Just trying to make the escape harder. FWIW.

melindamusil
01-13-2014, 11:47 PM
There has got to be a chemical or something the fugitives could use to throw off K9 tracking. Anyone know?

Police dogs are trained to track in different ways. Some follow a scent along the ground - those are the ones that can lose the scent when they get to a stream. Others are trained to track a scent in the air. IIRC, air-scents dissipate faster so it's easier for those dogs to lose the scent; on the other hand, they aren't thrown off by streams or changes in the terrain.

I do NOT know when or why the cops would choose one kind of tracker over the other. I just remember reading about it someplace.

ETA: The wikipedia article on this is pretty good.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Search_and_rescue_dog

GHO57
01-14-2014, 12:58 AM
Most successful dog escapes are done by simply moving faster and further than the dog+handler can cope with.

Dogs don't have shoes, so long distance tracking over rough terrain (think sharp rocks) is going to shred their paws eventually, which happens a lot sooner than it will take to wear through shoes. Dogs also can get scent-bored; an hour after the same scent and they start getting more and more distracted. A dog+handler combo is always slower moving than a running fugitive... so, if he can keep going at a decent speed for extended periods of time, he's bound to open enough of a gap to escape.

Which is why police dogs aren't usually called until they already have the fugitive contained to a relatively small area. Generally they're mostly used for finding people hiding, not running... the only way you'd use a dog to stop someone running is if you already have a visual on the target... and at that point you're just using the dog as a weapon, the scenting ability is moot.


Also, you can presumably escape from a FLIR (I never did when we were playing opfor for the border patrol...but I hear it's been done) the problem is, you can't know if you're visible on it, or not. The human body is an active source of IR energy; most things that would hide you in the visible spectrum are somewhat transparent in IR, and even if they're not... well... you sparkle.

Think of it this way; you're hiding behind a bush... usually good enough cover for visible light... but how good would it be if you were producing light from your skin (like 100 watts of it)? Would you still be undetectable if you were literally on fire?.. or would the flames be visible? Hiding from a decent FLIR camera is about finding a place where the flames are hidden too, only you can't see the flames yourself so you'll have to guess... and if you guess wrong, you're caught; if you move, you're visible... and if you stay stationary, you warm up the hiding place, and become visible... lose-lose. You need to guess when to move, when to hide, what to hide behind... and guess right every time until the helicopter runs out of fuel and hope the ground team hasn't surrounded you by that time.


The easiest way to lose the police in the scenario would be to find an illegal marijuana growing (meth cooking?) operation in the woods and run through that. They're bound to give the police something else to worry about; at least some more people to chase down... and possibly get into a firefight with.

afarnam
01-14-2014, 12:59 AM
Okay, here's a really specific question about the Canadians. What happens if a somewhat belligerent guy, who claims he is working somewhat externally for the FBI (I don't particularly care if this actually exists though it is always nice to know, this is part of the weird stuff going on in the story) but doesn't have any proof on him, and his K9 team cross the border following the fugitives and run into Canadians who have been notified and are looking for the fugitives, and proceeds to try to give the Canadians orders? I'm assuming and hoping that they are not only not going to listen but possibly tell him to get back over the border? They may however see that he actually has a better chance of catching the fugitives than they do, given his specific K9 team. Anybody want to weigh in? How would this be dealt with.

Thanks, GHO57, that was pretty interesting. The thing I'm still unclear about is how far away a FLIR can tell the difference between a person and a large animal? This place is huge and I can't figure out how the FLIR could be useful in the daytime. Unless you have active video while flying it is going to be pretty hard. Photos of large areas are going to be hard to analyze. I think I have found the gold with the heat resistant blanket. Who would have thought? I just made it up out of my head since I have carried those with me for years but here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0U301OZiZ8

Drummerdad, initially the fugitives don't know how fast pursuit is coming. They believe they are going to drive out and then hike the green border to Canada in a different place where the authorities won't know to look for them. They get a tip off that their location may have been leaked. They spend 30 minutes preparing by throwing things into backpacks. They really are a fairly well equipped and experienced gang and they take heat reflective emergency blankets both for this purpose and for the purpose of actual warmth in a pinch. They underestimate the speed of the authorities and end up being cut off before they can reach the pavement. They get forced to backtrack up Forest Service roads and eventually forced to leave their vehicles. Cool mud is actually not as easy to come by as you think. This is very dry country.

GHO57
01-14-2014, 02:34 AM
Check this out...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=CRbBu8nkjRk#t=114

That's during the day, from a decent height... not hard to see the people on the false color image; parent and child on the right, and... a couple at the top, even when they're not looking for people. *shrug* People are hot, not many places on earth (outside Sahara) where the thermal background matches human body temperature.

From FLIR Systems site..."FLIR HDC provides exceptional long range performance with detection of man-sized targets beyond 18km and vehicles beyond 22km. ... technical specs:1280 x 720pixels, 22x optical zoom."

Mount that on a helicopter and it's a monster system. Helicopters can cover a lot of ground... and when necessary just loiter around; they'll fly a search grid, see a warm dot (12 miles away), move closer, zoom, identify and get back to patrolling if it turns out to be a bear or call in the ground forces if it's the target.

afarnam
01-14-2014, 10:10 AM
I grew up in mountains very similar to this, just a bit to the west and the temperatures in the daytime in August regularly reach 100 F, though it isn't that way all day. It is dry, so you don't notice as much. I think at the very least the image would be pretty unstable and hard to work with during the day.

frimble3
01-15-2014, 10:38 AM
Okay, here's a really specific question about the Canadians. What happens if a somewhat belligerent guy, who claims he is working somewhat externally for the FBI (I don't particularly care if this actually exists though it is always nice to know, this is part of the weird stuff going on in the story) but doesn't have any proof on him, and his K9 team cross the border following the fugitives and run into Canadians who have been notified and are looking for the fugitives, and proceeds to try to give the Canadians orders? I'm assuming and hoping that they are not only not going to listen but possibly tell him to get back over the border? They may however see that he actually has a better chance of catching the fugitives than they do, given his specific K9 team. Anybody want to weigh in? How would this be dealt with.
I am not in any way associated with the RCMP, Canadian security services, or similar but: (Bolded bit) Tell him to go back across the border? Heck, they might well arrest him for sneaking into Canada. Let's hope he really does have ties to the FBI, 'cause they might come and rescue him.
Really, a belligerent jackass with a weak story, no I.D. and a couple of dogs (and, I'll bet, a gun, because why wouldn't a guy like that carry a gun? All his FBI buddies get to carry a gun!) strolls into Canada, and starts giving orders? Why would anyone even stop to hear what he's saying?

What is so special about his K-9 team that would immediately be obvious and impress RCMP/border security? Are they werewolves? Can we see them shapeshift? Because if Mr. No ID is merely claiming how wonderful they are, well, we have K-9 units, too, and I imagine an officer running into this blowhard would want to see the dog's papers, at least.
For that matter, I have no idea what the penalty is for sneaking undocumented dogs into Canada. Oh, and if they are werewolves, the human form needs a passport, and the wolf form needs to have proof that he's been vaccinated against rabies. :D

Seriously, it may be the world's longest undefended border, but we watch it where it needs watching. We catch people trying to fly over, to stroll across, to tunnel under, trying to just casually slip across in boats. We are looking, I believe, more for smugglers than for terrorists, but we're looking, and if the US lets us know what's coming, we can look for that, too.
I've only seen a small fraction of the border, and most of that in B.C., but there are roads and towns, which have border crossings, and police, and nosy neighbours (most of it is small towns, at best) and the empty parts, well, empty enough that strangers would be noticed. If your
fugitives are planning to be picked up, they'd better have a great plan. The roads are easy to watch, and the non-roads are hard to drive on.

afarnam
01-15-2014, 10:47 AM
Good. I thought they might take exception to this guy. Yes, he has guns. His dogs are specially trained to track what they are tracking, but he doesn't really get to explain that in the version I have currently cooked up, as he ends up doing something right of the back that the Canadians would consider illegal. I'm assuming they tell him to get back over the border "right now" or they will arrest him and they only let him do that because they do actually believe he works for somebody important. That going to work?

This is very very remote border, just a strip cut in the trees, but there are quite a few different kinds of outfits out looking for the fugitives by that time, considering it takes them four days to get there and by the last day or so, everyone with a brain has figured out where they are headed.

And yes, the have friends, who they are going to run into shortly.

Thanks much.

frimble3
01-16-2014, 10:23 AM
Good. I thought they might take exception to this guy. Yes, he has guns. His dogs are specially trained to track what they are tracking, but he doesn't really get to explain that in the version I have currently cooked up, as he ends up doing something right of the back that the Canadians would consider illegal. I'm assuming they tell him to get back over the border "right now" or they will arrest him and they only let him do that because they do actually believe he works for somebody important. That going to work?

This is very very remote border, just a strip cut in the trees, but there are quite a few different kinds of outfits out looking for the fugitives by that time, considering it takes them four days to get there and by the last day or so, everyone with a brain has figured out where they are headed.

And yes, the have friends, who they are going to run into shortly.

Thanks much.
Well, if everyone knows where they are going, and they alert the Canadians, the Canadians will know where to start setting up the roadblocks, and checkpoints, with a reasonable probability of their crossing point, thus trapping your fugitives between the authorities ahead of them, as well as the ones behind them.
And, in addition to stopping your fugitives, the roadblocks and checkpoints are going to stop their 'friends', even if law enforcement doesn't know they exist. If there are armed terrorists headed to an area, the responsible thing to do is to get (and keep) civilians out of harm's way. If the friends try to get past the checkpoints, they'll be turned back for their own safety. And to reduce the chance of your fugitives getting hostages.

afarnam
01-16-2014, 12:31 PM
Thanks all! I think I've got it worked out.

Okay, obviously they don't know exactly where they're going. They figure out in the last day that they are almost certainly headed for the border but there is still at least 100 miles of very remote border to worry about. So, that all can end up pretty dicey for the fugitives but events intervene to cause officials to be pissed off, resulting in lack of coordination with the Canadians. They try to find the fugitives at first but essentially they figure out eventually that the story given to them by their US counterparts doesn't entirely add up.