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Pine Ridge PD working toward deploying K-9 team

Pine Ridge, SC (Paul Kirby) – The Pine Ridge Police Department took the first steps Tuesday night when the town’s council approved the concept and necessary policy changes to deploy a K-9 and handler within their department. There are a number of steps necessary that require the town council’s approval to deploy such an animal. One of these, a written K-9 policy, has already been written.

K-9s are an extraordinary tool for police departments, especially in regions where drugs are prevalent like Lexington County’s South Region which Pine Ridge is in. Although K9s are usually very expensive, often costing $9,000 or more, Pine Ridge is being blessed in the fact that they recently hired a handler with previous experience at another department. He also owns two Belgian Malinous, the preferred animal for most police work. Lt. Vincent Silano owns these fine animals that he acquired from Palmetto K-9. He has said that he is willing to assist Pine Ridge PD in developing their K-9 unit and he will handle and allow the use of one of his two dogs. Silano recently said that his dogs are trained to track, detect drugs, and apprehend suspects. These animals, like the officers that handle them, must have special certifications in order to do police work.Without having to purchase the dog, the startup cost for the Pine Ridge’s K-9 team would be approximately $17,000. This would include the cost to outfit a vehicle, training, equipment, and veterinary bills.

The Town of Pine Ridge is currently in the process of researching the most efficient way to either upfit one of their current patrol cars with a K-9 insert system or acquire a cruiser that already has one installed. These systems can protect the dog and officer’s life in various ways. These animals are highly-trained athletes and thus are susceptible to heat related injuries and death. The K-9 insert monitors the inside temperature of an officer’s cruiser and automatically reacts if that temperature begins to climb. It can make the horn of the vehicle sound to alert the handler and even take measures to reduce cabin temperatures on its own should the vehicle’s cooling system fail. These also have equipment that will allow an officer to remotely open the cruiser’s door to let the K-9 out if the handler gets into trouble while the dog is in the car. Although these full systems can be very expensive if bought new, Pine Ridge hopes they can get theirs in a cruiser that has been used by another agency, but still has low miles. If they can get a vehicle from another source like SC State Surplus Property already equipped, it could greatly reduce the team’s startup cost.

Currently, there are several other department’s that have K-9 teams available. In small departments, the K-9 is usually only available if its handler is working; They are not multi-handler dogs. This makes having multiple teams in an area a plus. Right now, Springdale PD has a K-9, Gaston PD has a bloodhound for tracking, and both Cayce and Lexington County have teams. SLED also has teams they can deploy based on availability.

There is no concrete timetable as to when the Pine Ridge team will first start working shifts.

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