JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Some special members of the Jonesboro Police Department are following their noses to keep drugs out of area schools. We're talking about the K-9 Unit and they're helping to create a safe and drug-free learning environment for students.
"We want the dogs in here to basically serve as a deterrent," said Dr. Mike Skelton, who is the Principal at Jonesboro High School. "The first priority here, and probably any school for that matter, is the safety and security of our students and staff"
As part of that mission, The district has called in the JPD dog squad to help sniff out illegal drugs on campus. "They don't want the drugs on campus and we want to create a better learning environment for the schools," said Lt. Rick Elliott with JPD.
From vehicles in the parking lot to locker checks, Lt. Elliott says there are four dogs who work with officers daily. "These two dogs searched the entire parking lot in roughly 15 minutes, as opposed to officers. We'd have to search car-by-car."
Elliot says at least once a month the try to hit each school district within the Jonesboro area. Every search is at random. "The students are less likely to bring illegal drugs on campus because they don't know when the dogs may show up," said Elliott.
Since the beginning of the school year, dogs have made some hits where officers found a small amount of drugs. But thus far, disciplinary actions have been left to school officials, which Skelton says ranges from suspension to expulsion.
"We try to be as severe as we can be on the consequences because we want kids to know that it's not okay to bring those things to school not only by law, but also for the safety risk that it imposes," said Skelton.
Elliott says the K-9 unit is not only helpful within the area schools, but in dealing with all aspects of police work.