RICHLAND COUNTY, South Carolina -- The Richland County Sheriff’s Department has a new four-legged deputy.
Oakley, an 18-month old English Labrador and the department’s newest member, will be searching for something other than illegal drugs.
On Tuesday, S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott and the Greenville-based Defenders for Children announced the purchase of the police dog, which has the ability to sniff out electronic devices such as S.D. cards and computer hard drives.
The dogs could be useful in finding hidden electronic devices in child predator cases.
“All over the world there are child predators, and with the internet and the ease of access everywhere, it’s made things even more widespread and even more difficult,” McMaster said.
Defenders for Children, a nonprofit, raised the necessary $23,000 to buy the dog and have it go through the three-week training for the Richland County Sheriff’s Department. The group is working toward having eight of these types of dogs around the state.
Oakley starts work with her first assignment Saturday, becoming the second electronics-sniffing dog employed in the state. The first, also made possible with donations from the nonprofit, is working in Greenville.
A 128-gigabyte device can hold up to 244,000 images, and some are less than a quarter inch, said Toni Clark, director of Defenders for Children.
Lott said it could be hard to find those devices because they can be so small and easily hidden.
“For Oakley it’s not difficult,” Lott said. “She’s being trained to go with us to find these little tiny devices these monsters use in our community to prey on our children.”
Defenders for Children also wants to raise enough money to place these types of K-9s in Pickens, Spartanburg, Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Florence and Anderson. Clark said she also hopes to have a dog available for state law enforcement to help with searches in rural areas.
“Too many children are being hurt out there in the public, in our communities, in our nation and we’re relying on law enforcement to solve our problems. It’s really coming down to the public, all of in this room, everyone listening. We really have to do our part to help,” Clark said.
©2019 The State (Columbia, S.C.)
Visit The State (Columbia, S.C.) at www.thestate.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.