Pubdate: Fri, 04 Nov 2011
Source: Decatur Daily (AL)
Copyright: 2011 The Decatur Daily
Author: Ronnie Thomas
Bookmark: (Drug Dogs)


PRICEVILLE - Mauro dashed in from the parking lot and the rain at 
Priceville High School.

He pranced and danced down rows of lockers, stopping only momentarily 
to sniff around as K-9 handler Don Carr of Morgan County Sheriff's 
Department snapped commands.

Suddenly, Mauro stopped and sat down before a locker, staring 
straight ahead. Carr yelled out the locker number, and Assistant 
Principal Dennis Morris opened it for inspection. Officers found it 
to be clean.

Moments later, Sukie, handled by Matt Schlosser of Cullman Police 
Department, sat in front of a locker.

"There's food or something in there," Schlosser said.

Sukie was right. It was food.

Fortunately, the K-9 search team of 10 German shepherds who search 
for drugs, alcohol, tobacco, even explosives, turned up no contraband 
Thursday afternoon at Priceville High.

But in a search at Brewer High School that morning, Principal Jeremy 
Childers said the team turned up a small amount of marijuana and some 
drug paraphernalia in a vehicle before rain curtailed the sweep at 
his school. The dogs already had searched the school's interior.

"There was some tobacco in other cars, but no alcohol and no bombs," 
Childers said. "The dogs hit only three cars that appeared 
suspicious. But the marijuana and drug paraphernalia were the only 
substantial items they found.

"There won't be a suspension, but that student will be sent to 
alternative school."

Morgan County Sheriff Ana Franklin heads the K-9 team that includes 
handlers from Decatur Police Department, Limestone County Sheriff's 
Office, Madison Police Department, state troopers and U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service.

In Thursday's search, Franklin said Ed Sims, Morgan County revenue 
director, also sent his dog and handler, Johnny Howell.

"All total, we had 10 K-9 teams and about 18 officers," Franklin 
said. "Priceville police also assisted in the search at their school."

In the past, she said, the Morgan County School Board had an 
agreement with an independent K-9 contractor to search schools.

"We have chosen to form this team at no cost to any of the schools," 
she said. "We will be utilizing the K-9 teams to search schools in 
each of their respective districts. When one of the agencies would 
like a random school search done, then any of the members within this 
team who are available would assist in the search.

"No single agency has enough K-9 resources to effectively search 
their school district. But together we can search them all. This is a 
great way to pool resources."

Franklin said Morgan County has never had a budget for K-9 handlers.

"We asked for donations from the community that allowed us to buy 
Mauro and his kennel this year," she said. "We're looking at adding 
another K-9 to the group.

"Until this year, the deputies furnished all of the food, grooming 
and supplies for the dogs. Without those donations, this team would 
not have been possible for the searches of the schools."

Childers and Priceville Principal Mark Mason are fully supportive of 
the area K-9 team.

"They lock down the school and sweep the lockers," Childers said. 
"And with 903 students, there's almost 1,000 lockers. They do a great job."

Mason noted that the team discovered marijuana at Priceville last 
year, where the enrollment is 430 students.

"This is a good feeling," he said of Thursday's search.

"We hope last time was a deterrent. I don't think we've had any 
complaints about the searches from parents."

As Franklin prepared to depart, Mason thanked her and said, "If you 
come once a week, we wouldn't care. It disrupts our day a little bit, 
but we just want a clean school.

"Our kids top to bottom are doing better."
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