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Behind The Badge: SLCPD K-9 Officer Huckleberry tracks down people as the ‘long arm of the paw’

Behind the Badge

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – One of Utah’s most talented police officers works all night long, doesn’t get paid a single penny and never ever complains.

Not only does he not complain, he never even says a word but when a suspect takes off or a child goes missing Salt Lake City Police Officer Huckleberry is right there on the case.

“This is Huckleberry and he’s a 4-year-old bloodhound,” his handler Officer Miles Southworth explained. “He’s the best partner I could have ever asked for. He’s got some superhuman capabilities.”

Officer Southworth has lived, trained and patrolled with Huckleberry since he was a puppy. They work all night answering the call when there’s a missing person or a dangerous criminal on the loose.

“That suspect that we would use a SWAT Team to go out and arrest if they were barricaded in a house, we’re going to be out looking for him just me and my big goofy dog that doesn’t really protect me,” Officer Southworth said. “So you do have to be extremely careful as you’re tracking and trying to locate some of these people.”

Just a faint whiff of where a person has stepped and Officer Huckleberry is in pursuit.

“My job is to get him on the right track and his job is to follow the track,” Officer Southworth said. “It’s fun to watch. He’ll track the right set of footprints no problem.”

On a snowy night at Forest Dale Golf Course, Behind The Badge put Huckleberry to the test.

“It’s essentially just going for the ride. He pulls. He’s a really strong dog when he’s on the track,” Officer Southworth said. “He is relentless and will keep tracking until he gets to the end so I’m holding on for dear life holding on to the leash and he’s trying to pull.”

Within a few minutes, Huckleberry found me hiding behind a tree 150 yards away.

OK, but can Huck follow my scent through a residential neighborhood full of people, cars and other dogs?

“It’s all just a game for him. He loves it,” Officer Southworth said. “He has this innate desire in Huck that just wants to track. All I’m doing is just kind of guiding it into what I want him to track and it’s just the funnest thing in the world to him.”

Minutes later he once again locates me a few blocks away. You can’t win a game of hide and seek against a bloodhound.

Huck is pretty special. How many police officers do you know that have their own trading card…and their own medal?

“We did get awarded the Distinguished Service Medal last year for a homicide suspect that he tracked and located and it was a really challenging complicated track. He tracked a really long distance,” Officer Southworth said. 

Officer Southworth jokes that he spends more time with Huck than he does with his wife.

“He goes to work with me, is with me all night long and we’re training all night long,” Officer Southworth said. “And he’s home with me the whole time I’m home so you get really, really attached. We’re pretty good buddies at this point I think.”

Last year, Huckleberry successfully located 36 people including another murder suspect and he never asks for anything in return… except a scrap of pot roast and a scratch on the head. 


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