WEST PALM BEACH (CBSMiami/AP) – Several South Florida law enforcement agencies have a few new four-legged officers on the force. Thursday, four bloodhounds and their trainers graduated from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Bloodhound Academy.
The bloodhound puppies are all from the same litter and have been training since they were nine weeks old.
They underwent instruction in detecting human scent, as well as simulations for various police scenarios.
Their handlers received training on using the dogs’ sense of smell, as well as a variety of other skills.
The dogs became members of the K-9 units of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, Broward County Sheriff’s Office and the Palm Beach County School Board Police.
They were donated by The Jimmy Ryce Center for Victims of Predatory Abduction. The organization, by Jimmy Ryce’s parent after his death, has provided an estimated 400 bloodhounds for police departments around the country.
“A bloodhound is your best single bet for bringing a child, abducted by a predator, home, alive. We believe that Jimmy would be alive today if a bloodhound had immediately been brought in to search for our son,” said Don and Claudine Ryce on their website www.jimmyryce.org/.
Jimmy disappeared in the Redland section of South Miami-Dade shortly after stepping off a school bus in 1995. His body was found three months later after police questioned handyman Juan Carlos Chavez, who later confessed to killing Jimmy after sexually assaulting him.
At the time, Jimmy’s parents believed Bloodhounds, which were not available in the search for Jimmy, might have found their son before he was killed.
Chavez was executed February 12, 2014.
Don Ryce, Jimmy’s father, attended Thursday’s Bloodhound graduation.
In recent years the Bloodhound program has been strapped for private donations which pay for the dogs and part of their training. The foundation accepts donations for the program at www.jimmyryce.org.
Two of the bloodhounds will work at the BSO.
Macie is assigned to Deputy Kelli Covet in BSO’s Cooper City district and Wyatt is assigned to Deputy Debra Wallace in Oakland Park. KASH (Kids Are Safe Here) will work for the Palm Beach County School District. BSO Deputy Kevin Bolling, handler of Suzie, also graduated Thursday as an instructor.
“The work of the Jimmy Ryce Foundation benefits law enforcement agencies in such a powerful way,” said BSO’s Sheriff Scott Israel said. “I hope we never have another abducted child in Broward County, but if it happens, we are prepared thanks to this amazing family.”
Bandit will work for the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.
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