Illegal drugs can cause problems in every community, but when they are brought to school, they can be a bigger deal. The Bibb County School District has a special officer on duty whose job is to keep the classroom drug-free.
Roaming the halls of a Bibb County School, you’ll see teachers, students, and maybe a K-9.
“She’s the cutest dog ever, she’s just big and fluffy,” Howard senior Shaniya Stanley said.
K-9 officer Deva is her name and she's here to work. Her mission is to keep drugs off campus.
“There’s not a high school in this country that doesn’t have drugs on its campus on a daily basis,” Howard High Principal Shannon Norfleet said. “That’s something we want to avoid.”
To do that, the Bibb County School District Campus Police Department bought Deva and made her an officer on the force. Officer Russell Criswell handles her.
“Marijuana, heroin, ecstasy, cocaine, there’s about 5 or 6 different drugs she can alert to,” Criswell said.
She roams the hallways, classrooms, and parking lots of every Bibb middle school and high school.
“That’s one sure way of doing it right there, because it’s the element of surprise,” Criswell said.
While they search, Criswell says Deva has an odd way of letting him know she's found something.
“She'll sit, stare, then all of a sudden, she'll start sliding backwards, so that’s what we define as a change in behavior,” Criswell said. “I know she’s on alert, I know she’s alerted to the odor of narcotics.”
Some students put Deva to the test according to Stanley.
“It was like some freshmen, they got it, she isn't a joke,” Stanley said.
Once Deva alerts, Criswell notifies administration like Principal Norfleet.
“We search the item or the person, and we attempt to find any illicit objects or substances,” Norfleet said.
Students can be suspended, expelled, or even arrested depending on what’s found. Deva's main duty is to be a real life deterrent.
“We want to be drug-free, but we live in a world where we know that will never happen,” Criswell said. “Our goal is to keep them off the campus, and keep the campus safe that way.”
Knowing Deva's on patrol makes Shaniya a little more comfortable in class.
“She makes sure that drugs and stuff don’t come to school so that we can be safe,” Stanley said.