NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Members from the North Myrtle Beach Police Department spent part of last week in Florida recruiting its newest officer.
That officer, though, is only five years old and goes by the name Johnny Cash.
North Myrtle Beach Police Chief Greg Purden says the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office reached out to him about two months ago to see if he was interested in a new K-9 officer for his department. Purden says he was familiar with the German Shepherd serving the agency he previously worked for.
“They were considering repurposing their K-9s due to changes in prosecution in the state of Florida,” Purden said. “It appealed to me because we are down a position in the K-9 unit and it also costs a tremendous amount of money – not only to purchase a K-9, but getting a dog trained up to where you need him.”
Purden says repurposing K-9 Johnny Cash in North Myrtle Beach saved taxpayers anywhere from $12,000 to $15,000.
“With a dog currently working, you not only get a dog, but you get all of the training that comes along with the dog, as well,” he explained. “I knew the dog. I knew what he was capable of and I knew he was going to be a great fit in North Myrtle Beach.”
Members of the North Myrtle Beach Police Department met K-9 Johnny Cash for the first time last Tuesday and saw first-hand the skills he could bring to the North Strand. It was also the first time K-9 Johnny Cash met his new handler, Officer Scott St. Clair.
For St. Clair, it was a goal years in the making.
“I’ve wanted to join the K-9 team for several years. I like working with dogs – being able to go out into the community and work with him and do the training and everything, it’s always been an aspiration of mine,” he said. “It’s something I’ve wanted for a very long time and I was overjoyed when I heard we were getting another dog and I was able to take him on.”
Even though K-9 Johnny Cash has five years of experience to his name, he’ll spend the next several weeks bonding with Officer St. Clair. The two will go through extensive, intense training ahead of testing for their certification – including getting down their German commands.
“It’s going to be a lot of work, but I’m looking forward to it,” St. Clair said.
The North Myrtle Beach Police Department plans to use K-9 Johnny Cash primarily for tracking and narcotics once certified.
“I think he’s going to be busy,” Purden predicted. “Our ultimate goal is to have a dog on every shift eventually. To have that asset available. I think we’ll keep him very busy – especially in the summertime.”
The City of North Myrtle Beach currently has three current police patrol K-9s – one that’s certified – and a K-9 that serves its fire department. While the city saved on the initial cost of acquiring another K-9, it will have to invest in its training, health, and well-being throughout the course of Johnny Cash’s career.
The North Myrtle Beach Police Department hopes to have Officer St. Clair and K-9 Johnny Cash on patrol by mid-November.