K-9 unit returns to Darke County

DARKE COUNTY – Darke County has a new weapon in the war on drugs and other crimes. The Darke County Sheriff’s Office K-9 unit Eric, a 3-year-old German Shepherd, and his partner Deputy Jay Pearson are officially on duty.

Eric recently completed a six week training in Wapakoneta before becoming a certified Ohio law enforcement service K-9. Its been over a decade since Darke County had a K-9 on the force. Local agencies have had to rely on neighboring counties to assist in matters that warranted the need for K-9 and even sometimes having to let things go when the units were unavailable.

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Deputy Jay Pearson with Eric

The Darke County Sheriff’s Office hosted a training session with six other K-9 units out of Preble County May 6 at the Darke County Fairgrounds. This was the public’s first glimpse at it’s new K-9 unit and what he can do.

“With the rising number of drug-related cases, Darke County was in need of this,” said Preble County Deputy Sheriff Matt Lunsford who was at Tuesday’s training.

According to Deputy Pearson, Eric is certified in the detection of the four major drugs on the streets today: marijuana, heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine, but has also been trained to sniff out other illegal drugs as well.

“Eric is a great addition,” Darke County Sheriff Toby L. Spencer told The Early Bird. “He is sure to make a major impact in the fight on transporting of drugs into Darke County.”

Eric lives at home with his partner, Deputy Pearson. “It helps build the bond that is necessary when doing this job,” Pearson said.

Along with handling calls locally, Eric and Deputy Pearson will respond to neighboring counties to assist when needed.

The new K-9 Unit SUV is one of three new all-wheel drive, V-6 fuel efficient Ford custom model vehicles the department recently added to its fleet. The vehicle Eric and Deputy Pearson utilize is equipped with many unique features, including an environmental monitoring system that acts as an on-board protection for the health of Eric. The vehicle is equipped to keep the dog’s temperature comfortable and has an exterior alert system if is senses he is getting to warm. Deputy Pearson carries a remote control for the vehicle to activate or disable the features, including opening the door to release Eric if a situation calls for his assistance.

“Eric will not only be used in narcotics investigations, but also in tracking lost individuals and fugitives on the run,” Sheriff Spencer added.

“The department is definitely open to the idea of adding addition dogs in the future. Lets just see how things go first,” he concluded.

Visit our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/user/bluebagvideo or like us on Facebook to watch some exclusive video of Eric during Tuesday’s training.

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