Sgt. Matthew Azaroff
K-9 Unit Commander
The Cherokee Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit has been a full time unit since 1989. Currently the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office has five dual purpose K-9’s. Three of those teams are narcotics detection dogs and two are explosive detection dogs. The Cherokee Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit currently consists of a Sergeant, and four deputies. All of the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office K-9’s are from overseas and receive their initial through the Sheriff’s Office K-9 handler school. After the K-9 teams initial training, the teams receive extensive weekly training through the Sheriff’s Office K-9 team training program.
Sgt. Matthew Azaroff is the commander and head trainer of the K-9 unit and has been a K-9 Handler since May of 2003. Sgt. Matthew Azaroff is the handler of K-9 Maxim. K-9 Maxim is a Belgian Malinois imported from Holland. K-9 Maxim is trained in explosives detection and patrol. Sgt. Azaroff is also a certifying official with the National Narcotics Detector Dog Association.
Deputy Mark Patterson has been a handler since October of 2013. Deputy Patterson is the handler of K-9 Dyno. K-9 Dyno is a Dutch Shepard imported from Holland and is trained in the areas of explosive detection and police service dog.
Deputy Matthew Verber has been a K-9 Handler since January 2014. Deputy Verber is the handler of K-9 Dixon. K-9 Dixon is a Belgian Malinois\ Shepard mix imported from Holland. K9 Dixon is trained in the areas of narcotics detection and police service dog.
Deputy Bryan Stark joined the K-9 Unit in 2016. D/S Stark is the handler of K-9 Yoda. K-9 Yoda is a Belgian Malinois imported from France. K-9 Yoda is trained in the area of narcotics detection and police service dog.
Deputy Jack Fulenwider joined the K-9 Unit in 2016. D/S Fulenwider is the handler of K-9 Amp. K-9 Amp is a Belgian Malinois imported from France. K-9 Amp is trained in areas of narcotics detection and police service dog.
Since 1990 the K-9 Unit has seized more than $24,000,000 in illegal drugs. The K-9 Unit is also responsible for assisting the Sheriff’s Office and police agencies with in and around the county in many capacities, some of the functions they can perform are narcotics detection, explosives detection, locating missing/lost persons, tracking fleeing suspects, evidence recovery, and educating the public.
A high priority for the K-9 Unit is education and public relations. Each year the K-9 Unit visits Cherokee County Schools, private schools and county daycares, speaking to over 24,000 people a year. Some of the public functions include America’s Night Out Against Crime, Red Ribbon Week, career day, community helpers week, Neighborhood Watch Programs, and speaking with the Boy Scouts of America and Girl Scouts of America.