The Special Operations Division is directed by a Division Major.
The Harrison County Sheriff’s Department Canine Unit is directed by the Major of Special Operations and is under the direct supervision of a Training Sergeant who is responsible for conducting weekly training of handlers and canines.
The Harrison County Sheriff’s Department typically employs German Shepherds, Rottweilers, and Labradors as service canines. There are ten canines in the Canine Division, six of which are cross-trained for protection and narcotics detection. The Sheriff’s Department has one Labrador which is assigned to the School Resource Division and one Rottweiler assigned to the Harrison County Adult Detention Center. This Rottweiler is certified as a cell extraction canine. The Harrison County Sheriff’s Department also employs canines trained in explosives detection and protection.
The canines participate in organized training under the auspices of a paid professional trainer. Each canine and handler are required to pass a certification test which meets the standards set forth by the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department. A canine cannot be used until the canine and his/her handler have completed their certification testing and the basic four (4) week handler course, as is universally accepted in federal and state law.
Sheriff’s canines literally save hundreds of man hours each year searching for criminal suspects and missing persons. The canines, with the use of their enhanced sense of smell, can search a location in a fraction of the time that it would take a deputy to do so on foot. Due to the speed in which a canine can complete the search, the deputies are able to return to full service in a much shorter time period.
Canine units respond to the following types of calls: Robberies in Progress, Burglaries in Progress, Breaking and Entering in Progress, Assault in Progress, Pursuits, Prowler, Suspicious Persons or Conditions, Serving Warrants to Dangerous Persons, Crowd Control, Missing Persons, and General Searches for Evidence and/or Person Tracking.