It is the mission of the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office Regional K-9 Resource Team to provide professionally trained and highly motivated K-9 teams to respond to critical incidents within Chatham County and surrounding counties. K-9 teams will be applied as a sophisticated tool to enhance the capabilities of patrol or other units at a crime scene. In addition, they will provide psychological and physical back-up, detect explosives and narcotic substances when so trained. Our unit deploys six narcotic canines and four explosive canines for the purpose of evidence recovery and safeguarding human life. Here are a few details that the K-9 Unit performs in their daily job duties:
- Safe School Searches
- Street Sweeps
- Neighborhood Drug Activity Suppression
- Traffic Safety Checks
- Service of Search Warrants
- Recovery of Evidence
- Community Drug Education Demonstrations
- Participation in Multi-Level Narcotic Interdiction Efforts
- Narcotic Sweeps of Correctional Facilities
- Explosive Detector Response
- Sterility Sweeps
- Basic Explosive/Narcotic Handler Course
- Patrol/Dual Purpose Course
- K9 Supervisor Course
- Advanced Explosive/Narcotic Course
The K-9 Unit was originally formed in 1989, by a collaborative effort of then, Captain and now Sheriff John T. Wilcher, Corporal Sandy Daly, and Deputy Tommy Smoak under the leadership of then, Sheriff Walter Mitchell. It has since grown from one narcotic detector dog, Sgt. Elvis, handled by Lt. Tony Derryberry, into a nationally recognized leader in the effective use of Police Service Dogs. The Sheriff’s K-9 Team is working to increase the professional standing of Police Service Dogs across the state, and is proud to represent Chatham County, both at the state and national level.
We are a K-9 program that is funded by Chatham County with the assistance from the BJA Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant and Georgia Emergency Management Agency/Homeland Security EOD K9 Grant; therefore all of our services are free. The K-9 Unit has three general instructors, whose primary duties consist of providing instructional courses in Basic Explosive/Narcotics Handlers Course, Patrol/Dual Purpose Course, K9 Supervisors Course and Advanced Explosive/Narcotics Handlers Courses to outside agencies. The only cost for these services to requesting agencies is their officer’s per diem and gas. Lodging is provided for the first six students in our new state of the art K-9 building, which includes a full service kitchen and laundry room for the students, while they are registered for a course. Outside lodging is the responsibility of the agency after our dorm is full.
This Office supports local, federal, and private organizations for the purpose of Narcotic and Explosive services. This unit is unique in that each of the handler teams are fully dedicated handlers, which means, they only deploy and train their partners for their primary duty. This Unit is also made up of a Criminal Interdiction Team, whose primary job is to work interdiction on our interstates that travel through Chatham County and a Drug Interdiction Unit, whose primary job is to work alongside the Postal Inspector, working the mail carrier/delivery systems.