Hunt for former officer made difficult because of his tactical knowledge

Published: Saturday, Feb. 9 2013 8:24 a.m. MST

Los Angeles Police Public Information officers: Sara Faden, left, and Officer Norma Eisenman carry photos of suspect Christopher Dorner during a news conference at the LAPD headquarters in Los Angeles Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013.

Associated Press

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OGDEN — Police and military teams regularly practice taking down dangerous criminals. When they deal with one of their own, as is the case in California in the search for Christopher Dorner, they must expect he knows what they're doing.

"This is as extreme as a gets," said Randy Watt, a colonel in the Utah National Guard who trains SWAT teams across the country, including Los Angeles. "When you are facing one of your own who has an understanding of your tactics, techniques and procedures, you're very, very concerned. Because when someone like that goes rogue, they have a pretty good understanding of how you're going to act, and therefore they can counter it."

As a former assistant police chief with the Ogden Police Department, Watt knows how to lead such manhunts.

"My first priority is (to) find him," Watt said. "If I can find him, I can essentially get him trapped in an area where he can't move. I've got to stop his mobility."

Watts said Dorner can attack anywhere at any time.

"He's got the element of surprise on side," he said.

Police said Dorner posted a manifesto on Facebook, mailed documents to CNN and threatened to kill in public. 

"This guy hasn't just made threats, he's already killed members of a law enforcement organization," Watt said. "It's pretty indicative of the level of danger."

Because of that, Lt. Mark Lowther, a hostage negotiator with the Weber County Sheriff's Office, fears Dorner won't go quietly. 

"You just want to do a lot of background on him, a lot of homework on him, try to get inside his head and figure out what he's after," Lowther said. "He's trying to shout from the rooftops to state his cause that he's been wronged."

Lowther said he thinks Dorner will be laying low, planning his next move, but he doesn’t see him surrendering peacefully.

"I think he's somewhere watching TV right now," Lowther said. "I think he's wanting to see if his message is being reached out there, if it is being repeated, and what kind of attention he is garnering."

Meanwhile, law enforcement officials in Utah have been placed on alert in the event Dorner surfaces here. Dorner spent some time at Southern Utah University as a student and a football player.

"If he's trying to get out of the state of California and go somewhere else, this would probably be one of multiple places he's familiar with," Utah Highway Patrol Cpl. Todd Johnson said. 

Cedar City police are also on alert. They don't want any officers taken by surprise.

"We're familiar with the type of police training and military training that he's had," Cedar City Police Sgt. Jimmy Roden said. "So obviously he is skilled in those areas."

E-mail: jboal@ksl.com, aadams@ksl.com

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