Sgt. Jeff Felt recalls his service with Gildon
Gildon’s most memorable calls, in my words. There are far too many to mention, but these are the ones that have stuck with me over the years:
- Gildon’s first track finding a person at the end. The call started as a hit and run to a vehicle in the Allied Drive neighborhood. Officers witnessed the incident and attempted to pull over the car. A vehicle pursuit ensued with the driver crashing the car in the front lawn of a house on Seminole Highway. The driver fled into the Arboretum. Officers pursued, but did not locate. Gildon tracked the suspect driver from the vehicle into the Arboretum. I don’t recall how long the track was, maybe a couple of hundred yards, but I will never forget seeing a leg sticking out from under a large bush. It took a second to process. Gildon tracked right to the suspect. He was ordered out, rather non-compliant, but was taken into custody without incident. The other memorable thing of note, was how frigid it was this night. I don’t recall the exact temperature, but I believe it was in the 15 below range. The suspect was not dressed for the weather and, it’s possible, that if Gildon had not found him, that the suspect would have perished or certainly had frost bite.
- One of my favorite calls was a track Gildon had for an outside agency. The call was a domestic where the husband had battered his wife and fled from the residence. The “residence” was actually a large farm. The farm included a home, several outbuildings and various types of livestock. The other agency arrived on scene and had several officers out searching the property and it’s outbuilding for the suspect. They didn’t locate him and asked to have Gildon attempt to track him. All we knew is that he fled out of the back patio/deck of the home. After securing the farm dog, we attempted the track. Gildon immediately began tracking from the back deck, past a couple of outbuildings and to a gate of a large fenced in area that must have contained a hundred sheep. Gildon tried tracking under the large metal gate to get into the sheep pen. There was a small outbuilding in the middle. My backup officers advised that they had already checked the outbuilding, so I pulled Gildon off of the track. He ended up working along the fence downwind of the outbuilding. He began air scenting and jumped up on his hind legs with his front paws on the fence. At that point, I insisted we check the outbuilding again. Sure enough, the suspect was laying inside the small outbuilding in only his boxers with a number of sheep.
- Another memorable track was for a suspect that fled from a traffic stop after a short pursuit. This occurred after dark. Officers located the abandoned vehicle and requested a track. Gildon began tracking from the vehicle. A Sergeant was one of my backup officers. We were in a residential area. Gildon tracked through a couple of backyards and I remember us crossing a fence line. Gildon began sniffing the ground after we got over the fence and I saw a dog tied out. As you know, dog odors can be his kryptonite. I let him work, but remember feeling frustrated. Gildon slowly began tracking around the side of the house and then up the stairs of the back deck (two story). The tracking line went loose. I can remember my exact thoughts, “he tracked the dog to the back patio window”. As it turns out, the Sergeant was smart enough to illuminate the deck and, there was Gildon—nose-to-nose with the suspect. The suspect was crouched down in a sitting position and his eyes were as big as saucers. I calmly recalled Gildon. The suspect seemed grateful and was happy to be taken into custody without incident.
- I should probably discuss a narcotic find. Gildon has had some remarkable finds. However, the funniest one that I remember was when I was fairly new. We had probably only been on the street a few months. I know you said “trust your dog”, but at times, especially being new, it’s tough. Anyway, we got called to sniff a vehicle. He alerted on the exterior. I remember it was a cargo-type van. I gave Gildon his drug sniff command and he jumped inside and began sniffing the interior. He alerted underneath the front driver’s seat. I told him repeatedly to “show me”. He clearly tired of my direction and, the next thing I knew, he brought his head up from under the seat. There was a large plastic gallon baggy full of marijuana. I’ll never forget the look in his eyes. He literally stared at me, and almost in disgust, spit out the baggy out in my direction while maintaining eye contact. I never doubted him again.
- Another memorable track was from a vehicle pursuit where the driver fled. Gildon tracked from the vehicle and a cap the suspect dropped at the vehicle. The track was probably ¼ mile long. He tracked from the parking lot, through grass, marsh and woods. We tracked to a small pond that Gildon began tracking across. As he got into the water, my backup officers and I heard a voice from the tall grass on the other side of the pond, “hey guys, I give up.” Again, the suspect was happy to be taken into custody.
- There’s a two mile track across several farm fields with no direction of travel that he found a suspect who fled from a substantial battery. There’s the night he successfully tracked two suspects on back-to-back unrelated calls. There are so many amazing memories of the incredible work he’s done.
- All of his excellence came together, though, on a SWAT call last year. Gildon and I spent thirteen plus hours on a perimeter. It was a 95 degree day. Canister after canister of OC and CS were shot into the residence. We finally make entry with the SWAT entry team and Gildon is point. He works through the heavily contaminated environment. He helps clear the upstairs. He locates the suspect downstairs and is used to help take him into custody during one of the most violent encounters I experienced as a police officer. He’s choked out and battered by the suspect, but continues to do his job. He’s a warrior and I still get emotional about the events of that evening. What I asked him to do was unprecedented. He never questioned me. He trusted me every step of the way as I did him. It was his finest moment.
It’s hard to put into words what he’s meant to the department, the citizens, and selfishly, to me. I can honestly say, there wasn’t a shift that went by that he did not make me laugh out loud. I’m not saying there weren’t some frustrations, but he was always so forgiving of me. We share a bond that is very difficult to put into words. I hope these highlights give some insight into this relationship and the fine, selfless work he’s done for the past 7 and ½ years.”