Christmas came a few days late for the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office, which learned last week that its K-9 division will receive at least $46,000 in homeland security grant money.
Sheriff’s Maj. Greg Rowan said the funding will go toward a new vehicle for Sgt. Freddy Yarbrough and his K-9 officer Yoki, a 5-year-old, black German shepherd certified in detecting explosives.
Administered by the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, the grant is designed to enhance homeland security measures.
Yarbrough commands the North Georgia K-9 Task Force, which provides dog services for Dawson and eight other North Georgia counties, including neighboring Forsyth, Pickens, Gilmer and Lumpkin.
The task force operates through grants from the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council.
“$46,000 will go a long way in doing what we need to do,” said Rowan, noting that the county could receive more than that amount.
“What I was told is that when all the agencies that are eligible to receive the funding meet, some may decline all or a portion of the money, which would mean there is a possibility we could receive more,” he said.
Yarbrough currently drives a 1998 Ford Expedition with more than 170,000 miles.
The grant also will help buy equipment the officer uses to train the dogs and their handlers.
In a letter dated Dec. 24, Gov. Sonny Perdue thanked the sheriff’s office for its commitment to protect Georgia residents and assets.
“I appreciate your efforts to ensure that Georgia remains a safe place for us to live and raise our families,” he wrote. “By working together, we can continue to be prepared.”
Rowan said GEMA contacted the sheriff’s office last year asking if it would be interested in providing the explosives training to other K-9 units in order to receive the grant.
“This is something that we’re already doing,” Rowan said.
“Freddy is a certified K-9 instructor and has partnered with other agencies for in service narcotics and explosives training. The only difference is this will be strictly for explosives.”
E-mail Michele Hester at firstname.lastname@example.org.