SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The Surfside Beach Police K-9 unit just returned from New Jersey after completing a nearly six-week training course in which two officers were certified.
Chief Rodney Keziah said there were some staff changes within the department, so they had to train and certify the two officers to become canine handlers.
Officer A.J. Martin, and Officer Aaron Hans are now certified canine handlers for the department and will work closely with their four-legged partners, Biko and Viking.
The team traveled to the U.S. Police Canine Association, where they received certification and re-certification.
According to Keziah, the dogs were already certified, but new training courses are needed to make sure the animals can do their job.
Martin said the training was also about learning how to work together and understanding Biko and Viking's mannerisms.
"We touched on narcotic detection, but also tracking and the obedience of the dogs," he said. "We are learning the behaviors of the dogs, what they like, what they don't like, just their demeanor (and) how to read their changes."
The K-9 dogs can detect seven different narcotic scents. During this recent training, they learned to also pick up on the scents of crack and ecstasy.
Martin said when the dogs are on a search, the partners look for several indicators to help them find the drugs or missing person.
"Everybody thinks it's just one alert like the sitting or the scratching, but it is multiple indications that go in to it," he said.
According to Keziah, the K9 department is only two years, but has already seen some great results.
"It's just another tool that we can use at Surfside Beach to take an aggressive stance against the illegal use of narcotics and the trafficking of narcotics in and through Surfside Beach," Keziah said.
Biko was the first dog to start the program, and Viking is approaching his first year with the department.
Both of the dogs were donated to the SBPD.