Capa, a drug-detecting K-9, had a busy day at local schools last week.
Baker City Police Department Sgt. Wayne Chastain brought the 3-year-old Belgian Malinois-German shepherd mixed breed to Grant County March 7 at the request of John Day Police Chief Richard Gray. The K-9 sniffed lockers for drugs and demonstrated its drug-finding ability for students, while Chastain explained how he works with Capa.
“The dog is trained to find odor but not drugs,” he said.
When the dog smells an odor it has been trained to detect — such as heroin, methamphetamine or LSD — in a locker, Chastain said Capa will sit, and he marks the locker for the school administrators to review.
No drugs were found at Prairie City School or Grant Union Junior-Senior High School, and administrators said the search helps provide a safe, drug-free school environment.
Prairie City School Superintendent/Principal Julie Gurczynski said the school is trying to be more security- and safety-conscious, which is why she contacted Gray to set up the K-9 search. She said the assembly afterward was also educational and helps promote positive relationships between the community and police.
“I thought it was a very productive assembly and worthwhile for the students to understand how a drug dog works and that it is a valuable officer in the police force,” she said. “You could hear a pin drop when he was talking. They were all very attentive.”
Grant Union Principal Ryan Gerry said the school wasn’t able to schedule an assembly this trip but would like to have a K-9 search at least once per year.
“We’re committed to providing a safe and healthy, drug-free educational environment at the school, and I think that this is one way we can make sure we don’t have substances like that in our school,” he said. “We want to do what we can.”
Grant Union also implemented random drug testing this academic year for students who participate in extracurricular activities. Positive drug tests result in suspension from activities and athletics, but the students are not penalized academically.
Gerry said the test results are confidential, and he could not disclose whether any students tested positive for drugs.
The Grant School Board will continue discussion on a drug-testing policy for middle school students at the March 15 board meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. at the district office.