Group donates Electronic Storage Detection K-9 to help protect children in Richland Co.

K-9 Oakley is an 18-month-old English Labrador whose main task is to protect children.

Columbia, S.C. (WOLO) — The Richland Co. Sheriff’ Department now has a new deputy who is trained to find electronic storage devices. K-9 Oakley is an 18-month-old English Labrador whose main task is to protect children.

“We’ve got sexual predators, we got child molesters, we got human traffickers; we’ve got monsters out there in our community that are preying on our young kids,” said Richland Co. Sheriff Leon Lott.

Oakley was introduced Tuesday morning at the State House.

“When the sheriff executes a warrant and goes into someone’s business or residence or some place, and they’re looking for the evidence; unless you know exactly where to look, it’s hard to find some of these little things and they can escape detection. But they cannot escape the nose on Oakley,” said Gov. Henry McMaster.

Oakley officially graduates from training this Friday, and once she does she will be one of 21 electronic storage detection K-9’s across the country. Three will be working in departments around South Carolina.

“It’s an honor. To watch her work is amazing, she amazes me every single day. The training is intense, but it’s well worth it,” said Dep. Cassie Radford, Senior Investigator with Richland Co. Sheriff’s Department and K-9 Oakley’s handler.

Oakley is trained to find SD memory cards, flash drives and external hard drives. These devices could contain images and videos of children being abused.

“Look at these little tiny devices like this. Look how small that is. And think how easy that is to hide that, and how difficult it is for us, humans, to find it,” said Lott.

“Oakley’s nose is much, much stronger than ours. And she is able to detect those small devices hidden inside of books, hidden inside of nooks and crannies,” said Radford.

Defenders for Children donated Oakley to the Richland Co. Sheriff’s Department. The group raised about $23,000 which pays for the K-9, the trainer, and the handler training.

“Going into a search and missing one device could be a child’s life. And could be the only chance a child has,” said Tony Clark, Director of Defenders for Children.

Although a Richland Co. K-9, Lott says Oakley will help anyone who needs her.

This is going to be everybody’s dog. If somebody asks us for help, we’re going to go,” said Lott.

For more information on Defenders for Children, click here.

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