Police dog now on patrol at Statesville High
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Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014

Police dog now on patrol at Statesville High

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- DAVE VIESER
Zeus, a 6-year-old German shepherd, will patrol Statesville High School beginning this month, along with Officer James Bumgarner.

Police will begin patrolling Statesville High School with a K-9 police dog beginning this week.

Police say the patrol does not indicate a security threat at the school but instead is an effort to be vigilant.

Zeus, one of four Statesville Police K-9s, will be patrolling the school and school grounds with Officer James Bumgarner on days when school is in session.

The patrols are the result of a new joint initiative between the city and the Iredell/Statesville School System, according to Statesville Police Chief Tom Anderson.

“Since the Sandy Hook tragedy, we in law enforcement have been constantly engaging our schools thinking of better ways to provide services for this large population of young citizens,” Anderson said, referring to the the December 2012 school shootings in Newton, Conn.

“Let’s face it, drugs are present in every school, so we need to take steps to better address these issues and keep our schools safe.”

Zeus and Bumgarner will coordinate their patrols at the high school with School Resource Officer David Johnson, who joined the Statesville Police in 1989 and has been a school resource officer for 20 years.

Statesville High will be the base of operations for Zeus, but if he is needed in other parts of the city he will be dispatched to provide services and then return to the school.

“Officer Bumgarner was a school resource officer with Alexander County before joining the Statesville Police Department in 2008, and both he and Zeus will be an integral piece of this important partnership with the community and schools,” said Anderson. “They will be vigilant to the security and safety of the students and staff they serve.”

When the high school is closed, Bumgarner and Zeus will assist Statesville officers on routine patrol.

Zeus is a 6-year-old German shepherd who came to the city two years ago through a nonprofit called Canines United for Public Safety that is intended to pair dogs with law enforcement agencies that lack the funds to replace K-9s.

At the time, Zeus had been surrendered to CUPS by his owners, who were moving and could not accommodate him. Zeus already was trained in narcotics detection.

The use of dogs to patrol schools is becoming common throughout the nation.

Officials in Lee County, Fla., recently instituted K-9 patrols in all public schools in the district. Police do not announce when or where the dogs will patrol.

Officials in Lee County say the K-9 patrols there have proven a useful tool for police to detect both guns and narcotics.

Dave Vieser is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Dave? Email him at davidvieser@gmail.com.

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