Apprehending Fleeing Suspects - Book Review

This book review originally appeared in the May/June 2005 issue of Air Beat Magazine, Journal of the Airborne Law Enforcement Association and is reprinted with permission.

Jack's Book

Apprehending Fleeing Suspects:
Suspect Tactics and Perimeter Containment

by Jack H. Schonely
Charles C. Thomas, Publisher, Inc. 114 pp., $24.95

Review by Officer Todd Jager
San Diego Police Department
Air Support Unit

ALEA, Jack Schonely and suspect tactics – three phrases that have gone hand-in-hand for many years, as Jack has taught hundreds of members how to better catch the bad guys. You won’t find anyone in this industry more knowledgeable or enthusiastic about suspect apprehensions.

I have attended several of Jack’s lectures over the years, and at the end of each seminar there are several officers pleading for copies of his course material. Now, here’s your chance to have your very own copy.

Jack’s new book, Apprehending Fleeing Suspects: Suspect Tactics and Perimeter Containment, is a compilation of his classroom material, which draws from his 24-years of law enforcement experience. From uniformed patrol, to vice, to Metro, to K-9, and finally as a tactical flight officer and pilot for LAPD, Jack has participated in thousands of suspect apprehensions. Whenever possible, Jack makes it a point to interview captured crooks to better understand their thought processes, their methods of escape, their tactics.

One of the key premises of the book centers on the conscious decision to pursue or contain a suspect. Jack effectively outlines the myriad of circumstances that should be evaluated by a disciplined officer when choosing to chase a suspect on foot or contain that suspect and organize a search. Age of the suspect, nature of the crime, location of the foot pursuit and available resources are just some of the considerations Schonely elaborates on.

The principles of effective suspect containment are outlined in depth: size and types of perimeters, officer safety, command posts, communications and responsibilities of containment officers.

Jack’s extensive background as a K-9 handler helps aid the reader to fully understand what information the K-9 team will need to conduct a methodical and well-organized search. Search patterns, cross-fire situations and communications are all discussed.

When air assets are available, the nature and complexion of a perimeter containment and subsequent suspect search can change dramatically. Effective communications techniques between ground officers and the airship cannot be over-stressed. The book expounds on the ground-to-air interface complete with sample phraseology for improved, concise exchanges.

Based on his considerable airborne law enforcement experience, Jack also addresses the need for air crews to exercise great restraint: “The air crew should contain the block that the suspect is moving inside of and then worry about sending officers into the block to take the suspect into custody. When the block is contained time is on the side of the officers and there is no rush to go in and capture the suspect. Now a team of officers can be directed to the suspects’ location. This is safer for all involved and if the suspect leaves the view of the air crew the block is already contained and you know you have the suspect inside.”

Regardless of the technology we find ourselves surrounded by in the cockpit, in the end it comes down to anticipating the tactics of our adversaries. You will not find a more contemporary collection of suspect tactics and law enforcement counter-tactics. This book should make you stop and re-evaluate your own agency’s tactics and compel you to examine your current strategies for suspect apprehensions.

You can order the book directly from the publisher online or (800) 258-8980.