VALDOSTA, GA (WTXL) -- The Valdosta Police Department has three new officers on the force, but they're not your typical cops. They're fighting crime with their noses and four furry legs.
The newest crime stoppers in town go by the names "Jax," "Vader" and "Ziggy." The three dogs and their handlers finished about four months of training, earning the right to join the force.
The department has invested thousands of dollars in its K-9 team. These three dogs are worth $24,000 -- a large expense. However, because of the program, the city saves thousands of dollars training the officers and their partners here at the department.
Training for these K-9 cops started at an early age. The dogs live with their assigned officers and families. They serve two purposes for the force: detection and apprehension. One of the dogs is trained to detect explosives.
Officer Herb Bennett, the director of the K-9 program, says the dogs give the department much-needed support.
"They allow us to find things we can't see, so that's the best asset they are," he said. "Of course, in the end, they protect us, but first and foremost, they locate."
Earlier this year, the department lost one of its K-9's to cancer. With the new graduates, Valdosta police now have a record seven dogs. And for the first time ever, police will have access to one of the K-9's 24/7.
The newest K-9's will start working with the department on Monday.