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News Release, Charles County Sheriff’s Office
La Plata, MD- Sheriff Troy D. Berry is proud to announce the implementation of a new initiative aimed at helping victims of crime in Charles County: the Comfort K9 Program. This program, which has been in the planning phase for several months, will be aimed at providing emotional support to victims of crime, particularly children. The Comfort K9, a Golden Retriever, will work directly with a detective assigned to the Special Victims Unit (SVU) in the Criminal Investigations Division.
Detective Sergeant Kristen Clark, who supervises the SVU, developed the concept for the CCSO’s Comfort K9 Program after researching the work of therapy dogs with other police departments around the country. Research has proven that therapy dogs have increased disclosure rates in children during the forensic interview process from 34% to over 80%. “Our Comfort K9 will assist detectives who are conducting forensic interviews with children or other victims of crime who may need emotional support,” said D/Sgt. Clark. “This canine can also provide comfort for victims who are testifying in court cases.”
K9 Liberty is a 10-month-old female Golden Retriever who received her training at Applejack K9 Academy, home of the Elite Registry of Working Dogs, in Charlotte Hall, MD. She will continue to work with her trainers as she begins her role with the CCSO and transitions to working with her handler, Detective Nina Garner, who serves in the SVU. “We are grateful to the staff at Applejack for the top notch training they have provided Liberty in preparing her for the important work she will do in our community,” said Detective Garner.
“Victims of violent crimes have experienced significant trauma, and we are committed to helping them through the criminal justice process,” said Lieutenant Andrew Schwab, Commander of Persons Crimes. “The Comfort K9 Program will be a vital part of that process, especially for adolescent victims.”
Photos, announcements, and updates about Liberty will be provided on the CCSO Facebook page.
“We are looking forward to working with our new therapy dog partner,” said Sheriff Berry. “She will undoubtedly be a positive addition to the CCSO family and will provide an invaluable service.”