Integrated Search Strategies Utilizing Canines and Unmanned Aircraft – IALEIA Presentation

Scent Evidence K9 founder and CEO, Paul Coley, joined forces with FSU Emergency Management and Homeland Security Director, David Merrick, to present the integrated search strategies both organizations are using and how the effective combination of scent discriminate canines and drones are improving missing person search results. The presentation took place at FDLE in Tallahassee, Florida and included members of the International Association of Law Enforcement Intelligence Analysts – Northwest Florida Chapter.

Coley and Merrick have a long partnership and are considered trailblazers in the use of dog and drone integrated search strategies. That partnership served them well during a recent missing FSU student case conducted in heavily-wooded terrain. Coley stated, “Drones are our eyes in the sky when our dogs have their nose to the ground. They provide overwatch and recon to help us cover an area faster and to keep handlers and canines safe from environmental dangers.”

The presentation included an overview of the scent discriminate K9 training techniques and scent collection technology developed by Coley and Scent Evidence K9 including the groundbreaking Scent Evidence Collection Vacuum – The SEKR. The device was used to collect scent from the dorm room of the missing Florida State University student which ultimately led to Coley and scent discriminate bloodhound, Sadie, finding the missing youth alive. For full details of the Missing FSU Student case Click Here.

Paul Coley and David Merrick Integrated Search StrategiesPaul Coley is a former FBI Forensic Canine Operations Specialist and has dedicated his entire career to public service in the fields of education, law enforcement, criminal justice, investigations, forensics, integrated search strategies, and emergency management.
As a member of the FBI Evidence Response Team, he has deployed human scent evidence K9 Trailing teams in cases across the United States. Paul has also served as an instructor for National Academy Classes at FBI Academy and presented his scent discrimination techniques to law enforcement agencies and SAR teams across the U.S. and internationally.

Paul founded Scent Evidence K9 in 2012 to help communities and law enforcement agencies improve their methods of locating missing persons and apply integrated search strategies. Like many other canine handlers, Paul faced the challenge of finding an effective scent article during deployments. He developed the first scientifically-tested and proven Scent Preservation Kit® and “The SEKR” Scent Evidence Collection Vacuum to provide K9 Trailing responders with uncontaminated scent articles and on-scene scent collection methods that can increase location success and reduce find time.

David Merrick developed and oversees CDRP’s Disaster Incident Research Team, which deploys to disaster impact areas to perform field research on disaster and emergency management. This team consists of EMHS/CDRP staff as well as FSU students who have valid research agendas or projects and is partnering with other FSU departments to perform multidisciplinary research and data collection. He teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on EM Planning and Policy, Disaster Systems, and Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

Mr. Merrick developed EMHS’s unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) courses and curriculum. He is part of the team that developed the EMHS/CDRP UAS capability for use in disaster management and critical incidents, and has led deployments performing this work in Florida as well as Texas, Haiti, Belize, and Jamaica. He is a certified UAS operator with an emphasis on professional aviation operations in a variety of environments.

As part of the applied research team at CDRP, Mr. Merrick has extensive experience in emergency management at all levels of government, incident command, training and exercise development, facilitated planning processes, and has provided technical assistance on a variety of government and private sector EM projects.
Mr. Merrick has a bachelor’s degree from Florida State University and a Master’s in Humanitarian Relief and Disaster Logistics from the Florida Institute of Technology.