Bryan Co. Sheriff’s Office Adds K9 to Force Who Can Detect Electronic Devices
BRYAN COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) – This is a first of its kind for the state of Georgia. That’s how Bryan County Sheriff’s Office officials describe their plan for a new K9 detection.
The police dog can detect electronic storage devices used by child predators.
On average, electronic detection K9s find two devices per search that otherwise would have gone unnoticed by human investigators. That’s according to Defenders for Children, a group aiming to get electronically sensing K9s into police departments. Now, sheriff’s office officials are hoping that by sniffing out storage devices, the new K9 will help keep kids safe.
“Child pornography, people have to realize, it’s everywhere. It’s in every community. It doesn’t matter the size of the population. So we have to realize it could be next door, it could be someone on the street, it could be an office, it could be someone you know,” said Toni Clark of Defenders for Children. “Unfortunately child pornography is on the rise and it’s very easy for people to get away with it and that’s where the K9s come in.”
Clark says the new dog would be a first for Georgia — the region’s only K9 trained to find critical electronic evidence that helps investigators prosecute child molesters.
Sniffing a substance used in electronic devices, the dogs are trained to detect USB drives, hidden cameras and cell phones. According to Defenders for Children, these devices can store thousands of images of abused children and be easily concealed from law enforcement.
“Imagine, if you miss this device during a search, which is very easy to do because they are so small, you can hide it anywhere. What would happen to children who are not rescued?
The sheriff’s office recently opened an Internet Crimes Against Children unit which deputies say has helped them identify more cases of abuse and trafficking in the area.
“When COVID took hold, we really say the numbers skyrocket. Why? Because the children weren’t in school. They were being watched at different facilities by different people,” said Jennifer Fleming, PIO of the Bryan County Sheriff’s Office.
According to the sheriff’s office, Bryan County averages about two child exploitation cases per month and averages one arrest.
Although officials admit that these numbers are higher than those of similarly sized counties, the number of people driving through the county could be behind the increase.
“One way or another, there are currently 8 freeways running through Bryan County. They are therefore always traversed. So generally when you look at numbers, are they comparative? They’re relatively higher for such a rural area, but that’s also because we’re a bigger hub for travellers,” Fleming said.
And these types of K9s cost more than your typical narcotics police dog. The Bryan County dog prize will be $36,000. The K9 is expected to be in service in May.
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