Spartanburg Co. Sheriff’s Office receives electronic-detection K-9


SPARTANBURG CO., S.C. (WSPA) — Sata looks like any other black Labrador Retriever, but she’s trained to do something few dogs can: detect hidden electronics.

The Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office introduced the 18-month-old K-9 officer Monday at a press conference.

She was donated to the department by Defenders for Children, a non-profit organization based in Greenville.

“This dog will pick up anything that has an SD card or memory card,” Sheriff Chuck Wright said.

Sata is the third electronic-detection K-9 in South Carolina.

The other two K-9s were donated by the same organization to Greenville County Sheriff’s Office and Richland County Sheriff’s Department.

Defenders for Children told 7 News the organization hopes to deliver four more electronic-detection K-9s to other departments by the end of 2020.

Among other things, the dog will be used when searching homes of suspected sex offenders on warrant.

“Typically what will happen is an investigator goes in and clears what they can find,” said Kerry Halligan, the dog’s trainer. “Then, the dog comes in and finds whatever’s concealed or concealed in plain sight.”

On display at the conference were surreptitious recording devices — cameras that looked like smoke detectors or clothing hooks — and disguised storage units — USB flash drives that appeared to be wine bottle corks or cigarette lighters.

Sata can recognize these devices, regardless of how well hidden, based on smell.

“This little device right here,” said Toni Clark — a spokeswoman for Defenders for Children — as she held up a micro-SD card, “can hold up to 244,000 images of children being hurt.”

The storage device is about the size of an adult man’s thumb nail.

“So, is this evidence we can afford to miss? No,” she said. “The K-9s can locate these pieces.”

Leadership at the sheriff’s office said Sata will be able to put criminals — particularly ones who commit sex crimes against children — behind bars.

In addition to finding hidden devices, she can also provide emotional therapy for victims.

She will work alongside her handler Sergeant Brandon Letterman in the digital forensics unit.

Despite her important role in the department, though, Sata did not seem phased as the sheriff introduced her.

She was too busy chewing on a dog toy.

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