A new K-9 is set to join the ranks of the Richland County Sheriff’s Department’s pawed patrols.
Oakley, an 18-month-old English Labrador, was introduced on Tuesday at the South Carolina State House by Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott and S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster. Oakley, a female, will be tasked with detecting electronic devices, which are used by offenders of child pornography and human trafficking.
“In cases involving the possession of child pornography and human trafficking, Oakley’s search capabilities will be invaluable to investigators,” Lott said. “She will help our investigators ensure that bad guys are locked away as long as they need to be.”
Oakley was donated by Defenders for Children, an organization that is dedicated to protecting children from abuse. The female English Labrador is capable of sniffing out all electronic devices that predators hide — from the micro SD cards to flash drives and hard drives.
“This is a great example of what can happen when private organizations commit to helping our public servants fulfill their duties,” McMaster said. “We must always be on the cutting edge when it comes to protecting our young people from those who wish to do them harm. Because of this generous donation from Defenders for Children, and Oakley’s expertise, Sheriff Lott and the Richland County Sheriff’s Department are better equipped to serve the citizens of South Carolina.”
Because memory cards are so small, predators hide them from law enforcement successfully, making them hard to come by even during the most thorough searches.
“These monsters, they’re good at hiding these devices,” Sheriff Lott said. “They’ll conceal them in places that a human just can’t find them. And that’s the evidence that we need.”
During 132 searches in cases involving crimes against children, 152 devices were found by an Electronic Detection K-9 after law enforcement officials completed their search. A micro SD card can hold more than 200,000 images and videos of children being abused.
“One missed micro SD card or camera during a search can be the only chance a child has to be rescued from abuse, and the only evidence to stop an offender,” said Toni Clark, director of Defenders for Children. “We can’t afford to miss even one device on a search. “
Once she completes her training on Friday, Oakley will become South Carolina’s second Electronic Detection K-9; Queue, of the Greenville County Sheriff’s Department, was South Carolina’s first.