Marion County Sheriff wants to bring back K-9 unit after increase in drug crimes

MARION, SC (WBTW) – The Marion County Sheriff’s Office wants to get its K-9 unit back up and running again after an increase in drug crimes and overdoses in the area.

About a year ago, the last K-9 retired, leaving the sheriff’s office with one bloodhound. Sheriff Brian Wallace explained the bloodhound is also near retirement and they need to revamp the K-9 unit.

Wallace said the K-9 unit will focus will be getting drugs off the street, especially given a recent increase in overdose calls.

“We’ve seen several overdoses. It’s my understanding that Marion County is at- risk for heroin and fentanyl overdoses,” said Wallace.  “With heroin and different street drugs, we really need this K-9 unit for the drug part.”

Wallace said the new K- 9 would perform random checks for drugs at schools and help find missing people.

“It’s important because we have a lot of folks who may wander off with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Those dogs will assist us in tracking, even children,” he explained.

The goal is to raise $15,000 for the K-9 unit to make a comeback.

“We’ve lost some officers who were K-9 handlers and either the K-9 went with them, or the K-9 had some age on it and had to retire,” said Wallace.

The first $15,000 will purchase an already trained K- 9. Sheriff Wallace says the county will have to absorb the other costs for car additions and veterinary visits. Wallace says County Council is on board and supports the sheriff’s office. If the office receives more money, it will look into purchasing a new bloodhound.

The sheriff’s office partnered with Matthews’s Miracle, a local nonprofit that developed after Hurricane Matthew devastated different parts of Marion County. Founder Tammy Erwin said the organization hopes help people in the county through this partnership.

“This can benefit everyone. Having a K-9 here in the county, we don’t have to wait hours to wait on one to come from Columbia or another jurisdiction; we have it here,” said Erwin.

Erwin says the campaign started about three weeks ago and they’ve raised about $1,000. She hopes more people join the community project especially parents and children.

“I have two small children. Both like to wander and play outside. You don’t ever want to be that victim or that person in need. But if I’m ever in that spot, I want to know that Marion County has my back and that they are ready to rise to the challenge. To do that we need a K-9, we need some paws on the ground,” said Erwin.

Matthew’s Miracle organization started a ‘Koins for K-9’s’ campaign, to get kids involved. The group of children that collects the most coins will get to meet the K-9.

The deadline is July 14th at 5 p.m.

If you would like to donate the Marion County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Fund:

  • Deposit a check, made out to Matthew’s Miracle, at First Citizens Bank at 214 N Main St, Marion, SC 29571.
  • Mail checks, made out to Matthew’s Miracle, to P.O. Box 1729 Marion, SC 29571
  • Drop checks, made out to Matthew’s Miracle, off at the Marion County Sheriff’s Office