The Hartsville Police Department hosted the Southern K-9 Conference in Hartsville, South Carolina on June 21-23, 2021. Hartsville Police Sergeant Kyle Hause, under direction of Chief of Police Jerry Thompson, worked to bring Jay Kerr with Makor K-9 of West Virginia to Hartsville for this conference. The Department has a long-standing relationship with Makor K-9 as three Department Labradors have been trained there.

The conference consisted of training in odor work for explosives and narcotics, patrol scenarios, obedience, tracking, and decoy school. Kerr expressed the importance of training K-9s with effective decoys by saying, “If you don’t have a well-trained decoy, you won’t have a well-trained dog. The decoy is more than a person being bitten, it is the trainer.”

Thirty-two handler and dog teams came from throughout the state of South Carolina and as far as Denmark, California, Maine, and West Virginia. Instructors included participants from Germany, Sweden, Las Vegas Metro, and Makor K-9 Staff from West Virginia. Hartsville Police Department hopes to make the conference an annual event.

An event of this size is made possible with the help of local businesses and event venues. Brianna Douglas from Coker University provided the teams with full access to the campus, including use of lecture halls, the boathouse, and residence halls for accommodations. “Improving relationships between towns, law enforcement, and colleges is an important component to strengthening our neighborhoods and community,” said Douglas. “Coker University is committed to doing all it can to provide opportunities for our students and the community at large.”

In addition, businesses supported this conference with promotions, extra hours, and special assistance to the groups. These amazing businesses include: Block and Vino, Bow Thai, Crema, Griggs Circle Bakery, Hoof and Hound, Maxyne’s, Mr. B’s, New York by the Slice, Rooftop at the Mantissa, Sam Kendall’s, Vintage Craft Beer and Wine Boutique, Wild Heart Brewing, and Wingz and Ale. In addition, the conference organizers sincerely thank the anonymous citizens that saw the officers and paid for meals, to thank them for their service as well as the donations to cover breakfast and lunch allowing the officers to spend more time in training.