MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

October 30, 2013

Police dogs put on show at Harris-Jobe

Demonstration part of Red Ribbon Week

Egon, a black German shepherd, knew exactly where to find drugs stashed in the Harris-Jobe Elementary School cafeteria.

As students watched Wednesday afternoon, the dog took Muskogee police officers right to a locker where they had placed a scented sample.

Egon and another Muskogee police dog, Bosco, visited the school to demonstrate how they sniff for drugs and guard against attackers. The dogs were joined by representatives from the Muskogee and Fort Gibson police departments, the Muskogee County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI.

The visit was part of the school’s Red Ribbon Week drug abuse awareness campaign.

“We wanted to show the kids that even if you hide something, the dogs can find it,” said first-grade teacher Corrine Beaver, whose husband is a special agent in the FBI. Beaver said she also wanted to show students that law enforcement officers are there to protect them.

Muskogee Police Officer Bill Peters, the department’s K-9 handler, told students in first through sixth grades just how valuable the dogs are. He said his dog cost $10,500.

“But over the years, we collect a lot of money because of the dogs finding drugs,” he said. The dogs are trained to sit when they find drugs, he said.

The dogs are born and initially trained in the Netherlands, Peters said. As a result, many of their orders are given in Dutch, he said.

When one student asked now long it takes to train the dogs, Muskogee County Sheriff’s Deputy Bob Lynch said the dogs come to Muskogee already trained. However, the police and sheriff’s department keeps training and practicing with the dogs.

Peters said dogs also can help apprehend suspected criminals.

“We had a bad guy running that we had to get out in the rain today,” he said. “The dog can smell which way the guy ran.”

Peters and Bosco then demonstrated how dogs catch suspects. Bosco bit into the sleeve of a padded suit worn by Officer Chris Dean. The dog would not let go until Peters ordered him.

Bosco did the same with Mike Rivers of the FBI.

Sixth-grader Rhyan Baker asked how much the dogs weighed. The answer was 65 pounds, not quite as much as he does, he said.

“Police dogs work a lot,” Rhyan said. “We need to respect them and respect police because they protect us from bad guys.”

Harris-Jobe and other area schools had several ways to mark Red Ribbon Week, which began Oct. 23. Friday, students and teachers will wear caps as part of their effort to “put a cap on drugs.”

Last Friday, Whittier Elementary students dressed as what they want to be when they grow up. Today, Tony Goetz Elementary students are to dress as a real-life superhero, such as a police officer, firefighter, nurse or teacher.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.

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