SC’s newest K9 officer helps keep communities safe from offenders

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO) — Cybercrime can be a difficult crime to track due to electronic media storage devices used by criminals.

However, thanks to a new tool added to the state’s department of probation, parole and pardon services, explicit digital material will be easier to find. 

“There’re some people that you have to help a lot of keep out of trouble,” said Gov. Henry McMaster. “If they don’t think they’ll get caught, they’ll lapse back into doing what they did before.”

In the Palmetto State, there are almost 700 registered sex offenders.

“The sex offenders under the department’s jurisdiction are supervised by trained probation and parole agents,” said Chad Gambrell, South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Service deputy director.

These agents are with the South Caroli9na Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services. The department houses a digital forensics unit. 

“These technicians analyze any electronic devices that are found during a search of a sex offenders residence,” Gambrell said. “They look for sexually explicit  material on these devices such as anything inappropriate or violates the law.”

However, some computer flash drives can be as small as a penny.

To help find these, the department is recruiting the help of a canine officer. Spectrum and Defenders for Children funded the costs of adding the department’s newest member.

“They do locate hidden electronic evidence because perpetrators are becoming much smarter,” said Toni Clark, CEO of Defenders for Children.

“It’s unusual to have such a powerful weapon for law enforcement in such a beautiful, fuzzy package,” said Gov. Henry McMaster.

After spending months training in Indianapolis, the canine, a 1-year-old golden retriever-Labrador mix named Chip, has learned to smell out a specific chemical. 

“The chemical compound is found within the solder that is used to put together the chips in any electronic device used today,” Gambrell said.

This year alone, the department reports 51 violations were found during almost 300 searches by agents. 

“As they gather more information, they may suspect something with a particular home. That would result in a search with Chip as well,” said Jerry Adger, South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Service director.

“That makes our state a better place,” the governor said. “I give my thanks to everyone who have taken this big step forward.”

Categories: Local News, Richland