ATLANTIC BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The Atlantic Beach Police Department's four-person team is bringing on two K-9s to help crack down on drug use.
We have a large narcotics issue in some areas in the town, so with that it gives us better access to search and seizure for narcotics," said Lt. Nicholas Trevathan, an officer at the department.
Police have been training 2-year-old Vigor for the past month. The department received the dog as a donation from the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. K-9s typically cost more than $10,000.
Vigor can smell and notify officers of marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamines and heroin in cars, buildings or on people. He sits when he smells a substance and then he is rewarded with a rubber ball. That notification gives police officers the legal authority to conduct a search.
"With our officers on patrol by themselves, it's a safety factor, so it gives them the ability to have another tool under their belt to make our jobs safer," Lt. Trevathan said.
Vigor is set to be tested this weekend in Charleston on his search skills to become certified
with the North American Police Work Dog Association. He needs the certification to go out into the field with police officers.
Atlantic Beach Police Department is picking up another narcotics-trained K-9 in a couple of weeks, and the police chief has hopes of adding a tracking dog to the force as well at some point in the future. The dogs are part of a push to stop narcotics usage in Atlantic Beach throughout the year and at Bike Fest.
"With narcotics, a lot of other dangers are involved," Lt. Trevathan said. "You have a higher crime rate, you have more violent crimes, so by removing that from the community will be able to make Atlantic Beach a lot safer and hopefully bring in some more businesses, some more families."