Myrtle Beach police has new K-9 taking a bite out of crime

Cpl. Smith has been a K-9 handler for nearly 10 years. Cees is his newest partner. They've worked together for two months. Cpl. Smith says Cees is proving to be a successful addition to the department (Liz Cooper/WPDE)

The Myrtle Beach police department has a new tool to help keep the community safe.

His name is Cees. He's an K9 apprehension dog, which means he can be used to bite and take down a suspect, given the situation.

"It really depends on the actual crime that was committed," said Cpl. Chris Smith, who is Cees' handler. "Whether they pose an immediate threat to the public or to law enforcement officers and if they are evading arrests by fleeing or if they are actively assaulting or resisting a lawful arrest."

Cpl. Smith has been a K-9 handler for nearly 10 years and Cees is his newest partner. His previous dog K9 Alli, of nearly seven years, retired earlier this year. Cees and Cpl. Smith have worked together for two months.

"As a K-9 officer you really don't think of it as a pet, it becomes your partner," said Cpl. Smith. "You're together every day when you wake up and start your shift that is your partner. You ride around together all day long and you just build a close bonded relationship with one another."

K-9 Cees is the first of his kind in Horry County. Cpl Smith. says Cees is trained in drug detection, drug tracking, article searches and also apprehension and handler protection. And Cpl. Smith says Cees has already proven himself to be successful with the department.

"We've already had the ability to remove a large quantity of narcotics off the street, we've located articles of evidence and he's assisted in protecting officers already," said Cpl. Smith.

Custom Canine Unlimited is a world-wide company that trains dogs and their handlers. They've trained several dogs with the Myrtle Beach police department. They use practice scenarios, with decoys wearing protective gear, to train both the dogs and handlers.

"There's learning taking place," said A.J. Vargas, with Custom Canine Unlimited. "What we do as a decoy would change learning for the dog and maybe even for the handler."

Vargas says Cees is a multi-purpose dog, since he is trained for several uses. He says nationally officers use the dog's apprehension skills during less than 5 percent of calls. He says when they are used, it gives officers an additional tool when dealing with suspects.

"We see a reduction in the uses of force with the dog present," explained Vargas.

Cpl. Smith says K-9 Cees is essential to not only the department, but also the community.

"We are able to prevent that person from victimizing another person in the community by ending it there instead of trying to track them down at another time," explained Cpl. Smith. "It also provides added protection from our officers and myself included. He 's there to protect me at any given moment if I'm by myself on a call he's my partner there to help me out."

Cpl. Smith says to make sure K-9 Cees is successful, they're constantly training. Custom canine unlimited requires a minimum of 16 hours a month, but Cpl. Smith says they exceed that amount of training at the department.

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