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Arkansas school using a drug dog to address substance abuse

By ASHLEY GARDNERJune 30, 2019

TEXARKANA, Ark. (AP) — Fouke Public School District recently introduced its new canine officer, named Major, at the school.

Major is a narcotics detection canine.

“This is primarily a deterrent for our students who are into drugs and substance abuse,” Dr. Jim Buie, Fouke superintendent, told the Texarkana Gazette.

“I think we have a substance abuse problem here. This dog is intended to make sure we’re not turning a blind eye to it.”

Major, a black German shepherd, will do a passive alert when he smells an illegal substance.

“That means he’ll sit and stare at that place,” Buie said. “It’s called a free air search.”

Fouke School District spent $8,000 to buy Major. The price tag included a weeklong training session and handler certification for Jeremy McClure, Fouke resource officer and Major’s handler.

School officials hope Major can have a positive effect on students at the school.

“Students know he’ll be here every day,” Buie said. “When we do find a student in possession of drugs that opens up a conversation with the student’s parents and the school that would have never happened. Right now those conversations aren’t happening.

“I think it’s sometimes popular to say a school has a drug problem but the reality is we have kids with a drug problem who are at the school.”

If drugs are found on a student, they will be suspended for 10 days, according to handbook policy, and referred to drug counseling available on campus.

A new drug-testing policy will be in place for Fouke High School when the new school year starts. Mandatory testing will be required for all students in extracurricular activities and those who drive to school.

“If you fail that drug test, it’s not punitive. They will have to sit out from activities and no driving for 30 days,” Buie said.

Miller County Prosecuting Attorney Stephanie Potter Barrett was at the event. Barrett is entering her second year in partnership with Fouke Public School District to implement school safety measures in south Miller County.

According to a news release, the partnership between Barrett’s office and the school district came about as school administration sought to modify the traditional model of school security — which involved articulation agreements between the school and the Miller County Sheriff’s office — and move toward a model that gives the school district more autonomy to create a better school-safety structure.

“I am very pleased with the ongoing improvements in campus security that we have been able to accomplish in the Fouke School District,” Barrett said in a news release. “Dr. Buie has done an outstanding job obtaining the assets needed for the Fouke School District to be prepared for school safety threats. He has a vision and the determination to get results and I am pleased to partner with the school so that they may have a certified officer on staff and the ability to use a canine in the school district. My office is always committed to the continued efforts required to address the growing number of school safety concerns.”

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Information from: Texarkana Gazette, http://www.texarkanagazette.com

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