The Highlands County Sheriff’s Department chases bad guys, protects seniors, finds lost kids, and makes mean root beer floats.
A half dozen of the HCSD’s finest came to Tanglewood for the annual Sheriff’s Night Out. They spoke about personal safety, traffic on US 27, and answered questions from the audience. As always, the highlight of the night was the introduction of Ozzie, a Belgian Malinois multi-purpose deputy. Ozzie, 8 years old, 90 pounds, and not that far away from retirement, was lauded for sniffing out 146 grams of cocaine last week and assisting in the apprehension of two dealers.
The Sheriff’s Department has eight dogs. Three are bloodhounds which are used only for tracking. They are brought into the area when a child or a senior with dementia is lost, and to follow the trail scent of miscreants. Four of the dogs are multi-purpose. They can follow a trail but can also chase and take down a suspect on command. The eighth dog is a drug sniffer. The dogs come mainly from Europe, especially Germany, Belgium and Holland, and receive 480 hours of basic training before they get their badges. After that, they have one day of training every week to stay sharp.
Sergeant Darren Hood applauded Tanglewood volunteers Tom Guinther and Jeff Donde, and invited anyone interested in volunteering (in any capacity) to contact the department for information.