In 1990 I was a young Atlanta cop teaching a class for the first time in Athens, Georgia. There had been an upsurge in violent and sacrificial crimes involving occult and other dark groups around the region. I served on both a police and a private sector task force investigating these crimes and their effects on our communities. In the middle of the class, a noticed a man standing in the doorway at the back of the classroom listening intently. At the next break, he approached me and asked if I would be interested in joining him in developing a tracking program for the regional academy and the state.
I had grown up hunting, fishing and spending a lot of time in the woods tracking animals and poachers who frequented our land in rural Kentucky. That interested Murrell so we spent some time after class talking about the possibilities as he shared his interest and background in tracking and primitive skills. As a young man that loved his job at the time, it was beyond my comprehension to consider being paid to do something I loved to do anyway.
That day in 1990, a long friendship between Murrell Tyson and me began. I am forever grateful for the opportunity Murrell provided me in those early years of my career. I’m also indebted to Murrell for the many years of training and knowledge he provided me as I developed my own skills as a professional tracker.
Murrell, like Ab and Joel, primarily focused on “step-by-step” methodology and SAR tracking with a solid spin in using the tracking skills in support of daily police work and crime scene investigations.
Fundamentals of Mantracking for Law Enforcement, Special Operations and Search and Rescue Award Winning (2 Communicator Awards!) Video Training. OSI produced one of the first professional videos (1998) still used today to train professional trackers. OSI at the time was working with TTOS and pushed forward advances in the use of camouflage and concealment.
For more information, please see the OSI video on Camouflage and Concealment. The project was written and produced by David Henderman, CPP and it features David Scott-Donelan.
A Universal Training Systems, Inc. Production. This video features Joel Hardin, one of America’s original trackers, who helped bring man-tracking into focus and into the skillsets of many first responders, especially those serving in Search & Rescue teams and operations. Joel and Ab Taylor.
Joel and Ab were active primarily in the American West and North Western regions. We are not sure if this video is even available any longer. It was an old dub we pulled from OSI’s archives. The quality isn’t great, but it is still a useful piece of knowledge for trackers. We also post it here to honor these men and their pioneering spirit that helped bring the tracking skills back to the American first responder, as well as the military.
By the mid 90’s I had been teaching regularly (and getting paid for it!) at NEGPA with Murrell. We were teaching basic mandate students and we had certified the program for GA POST called Basic Man-Tracking. A lot of positive feedback and requests resulted in an advanced curriculum being developed and certified. But, that wasn’t all…
I approached Murrell and asked him what he thought about building an advanced tactical program that could reach police agencies at all levels all over the nation. OSI had been running for a couple of years at that point as a security consulting firm. Murrell liked the idea, and so, I began the development of a tactical curriculum that could address many of the tactical implications of field work that were not presently being addressed in the Basic and Advanced classes. Some of those topics were tactical team formations, surveillance, field pursuit of runners, fugitive recovery, booby traps and improvised explosive devices… and much more. The programs were growing and receiving tremendously positive reviews.
The type and maturity level of student was also evolving. We were now picking up students from other states and far away jurisdictions, as well as federal agencies that had SWAT, SRT, Surveillance, K-9, Fugitive Recovery, Tactical Narcotics, etc… the list goes on. We also picked up some military folks looking to advance their knowledge. It was amazing seeing students grow in just a few days. Finding booby traps and learning to move with stealth on infil-exfil was a very satisfying rewards for the instructors.
As NEGPA and OSI worked together, the reputation of the program grew and students came from far away to attend classes. Some were put on by the academy and some were run by OSI. In both cases, knowledge was growing and the stories were coming back frequently how tracking was helping officers, investigators and tactical operators in their everyday job responsibilities, as well as on special assignments and call-outs.
These classes weren’t easy and students had to work to achieve. But, in nearly every case, the reviews came back very positive, but the feedback from the field after the classes made it worth it to keep going.