K9 unit joining Surfside Beach police

A K9 unit will be joining the Surfside Beach police department after about a month of training which begins this weekend, said Police Chief Rodney Keziah.

Keziah said Thursday during the town’s budget retreat that the dog, an 18 month old Belgian Malinois, was purchased with assistance of a private donor and came from Wilmington, N.C.

“Initially there is no cost to the taxpayers,” Keziah said. “We’ve been fortunate enough to have applied for several grants that will cover at least the first year of medical expenses.”

The medical expenses include vaccinations and other such care for the dog named Beiko.

Beiko’s police training begins Saturday in Mount Pleasant. Upon completion, the dog will be used for narcotics detection and tracking, which Keziah said includes searching for missing people as well as suspects.

Beiko will work with Cpl. Julian Ziolkowski. A new patrol car in next year’s draft budget will be outfitted as a K9 unit.

Town Council wrapped up it’s two-day budget retreat Thursday afternoon, but did not make any major changes to the next year’s fiscal plan. The proposed $6.3 million budget must be adopted by June 30. Town Council plans to hold another retreat in November to discus long-range plans and visions.

Surfside Beach has had a K9 unit in the past. In Jan. 2013, an officer came to town and owned a German sheppard named Dolfy. The officer left the department the same year and kept his dog.

Before that, Surfside Beach donated it’s dog to the 15th Circuit Drug Enforcement Unit.

“We had some changing in personnel and we didn’t have a good match to reassign the dog to,” Capt. Arron Miller said. “The DEU was new and didn’t have access to a dog and they didn’t have the funding to purchase and train a dog.”

Police hope the dog will combat narcotics related crimes. In 2013, Miller said drug related crime had increased 26 percent.

The Horry County Sheriff’s Office in March added a K9 unit which also is used for narcotics and other contraband at the county’s detention center.

Police in North Myrtle Beach, Horry County and Myrtle Beach also have K9s used for narcotics. Horry County police also have a bloodhound tracking team.