Jul 9, 2014 6:51 PM by Ashlea Bullington
The St. Mary Parish School Board has contracted with LAK9SEARCH to bring three narcotics-detecting labrador retrievers into the schools. Once the budget is passed, Laci, Bear and Coco will be roaming the halls of schools in St. Mary Parish in search of illegal contraband. The dogs are trained to find narcotics, synthetic marijuana, tobacco, weapons and ammunitions.
St. Mary School Ssuperintendent Donald Aguillard says the Franklin Police Department has only one dog, making school searches difficult to schedule.
The $12,000 contract with LAK9SEARCH calls for one search per week of middle and high school campuses, or two searches a week for smaller elementary schools.
Jeanne Roane, a retired employee of the St. Mary Parish School System, is the head of LAK9SEARCH. She says the agency's normal narcotic search includes classrooms, lockers, gymnasiums, bathrooms and band room.
"This is our opportunity to get this contraband off the streets and out of the hands of our youth. It is helping the community as a whole. That is what matters most," said Roane.
Roane also said the dogs that will be in the schools and in contact with the students are not aggressive.
Laci, CoCo, Bear and their handlers were trained by Tarheel Canine Training in North Carolina. Tarheel has trained dogs for police departments all over the United States as well as the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force and several other branches of the federal government.
LAK9SEARCH is licensed by the National Narcotic Detector Dog Association, as well as insured and certified by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency to handle narcotics.
Aguillard said that there is not an issue inside the school system with contraband, but working with LAK9SEARCH will help keep the system that way.