Pubdate: Mon, 18 Jan 2010
Source: Jacksonville Journal-Courier (IL)
Copyright: 2010 Freedom Communications
Author: Maria Nagle
Bookmark: (Youth)


The narc has a bark.

Jacksonville High School students bringing narcotics to school after
today will learn that.

The Jacksonville Police Department plans Tuesday to unveil the newest
tool in its fight against illicit drugs - Rocky, a child-friendly
contender trained to sniff for drugs.

The 19-month-old chocolate Labrador and its handler, District 117
school resource officer Dave Melbourne, will be in the hallways to
greet students when they arrive for school.

The dog will then make its debut during a ceremony at 11 a.m. Tuesday
at the school, according to Superintendent Les Huddle.

The police department sought donations to defray the dog's $8,500 cost
and Huddle is hoping benefactors will be on hand for the ceremony.

The cost covers veterinary bills, two weeks of training for the dog
and Melbourne, food and a crate for the officer to haul the animal
back and forth from school to his home.

Melbourne returned to Jacksonville with the dog Friday after
completing a training course at an Indiana kennel where  the dog was

Melbourne and the dog will undergo six weeks of training in March
through the Illinois State Police's canine training program that's
required for the dog to be certified in Illinois as a police canine,
Jacksonville Police public information Tim Shea said.

The dog was named Rocky by its previous owner and it will be up to
Melbourne or the school district to decide whether that name will
stick, Shea said.

While the police department does have a canine, the police department
wanted to add a passive alert dog - one that children are able to be
around without the fear of attacks,  Shea said.

When a passive alert dog smells drugs, it will either bark or will sit
or lie down facing where it smells the contraband. The department's
German shepherd, Berrin, is an aggressive alert dog, which scratches,
bites and chews.

The new dog will be going to the high school each day with Melbourne
so it will be readily available to conduct searches for drugs there or
at Turner Junior High School.

Rocky's primary purpose will be to deter students who might want to
take drugs into the school and is not being prompted by any increase
in drug activity, Shea said.

"It's a learning environment and should not be a place where someone
can use or buy illegal narcotics," Shea said. 
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