As reposted from the Franklin Free Press. Original article, click HERE
On January 27, 2017, Russellville City Schools announced an agreement with Interquest Detection Canines, Inc. that will allow trained canines to randomly search the campuses for drugs, alcohol, and other contraband.
Russellville City Schools administrative assistant Tim Guinn found the company and agreed to the contract with Interquest.
“Interquest is paid on a per visit basis, and the cost of the service is $600 per visit,” said Guinn. “It’s very affordable.”
In the past, Russellville City Schools utilized either the Russellville Police Department’s or the Franklin County Sheriff’s canine for inspections, but the availability of those canines were limited. Interquest will provide monthly visits.
Guinn was also impressed with Interquest and heard good things from other school administrators around Alabama.
“I was shown a demonstration before we signed the contract and what these dogs can do is pretty remarkable,” he said. “I received recommendations from other superintendents in the state that have utilized Interquest’s services and they sang their praises.”
Russellville High School principal Jason Goodwin says he does not believe there are any issues with drugs, alcohol or other contraband at the high school. The use of the canine service is just as much about prevention as it is about detection.
“There is no problem with contraband here at the high school. This is simply a precautionary measure,” he said. “By being visible with the dogs and saying ‘hey, we’re going to be searching,’ hopefully that will prevent any individual from bringing in items they know they shouldn’t.”
According to the company’s website, Interquest is the oldest contraband detection dog services provider. Russellville City Schools will utilize the services of Interquest Detection Canines of Alabama/Tennessee, whose dogs and handlers are certified through Drugbeat K-9 Certifications.
“(Canines and handlers) all have to be recertified each year,” said Rocky Montgomery, the owner of Interquest Detection Canines of Alabama and Tennessee. “My guys are very good at what they do, and they are good because they know the importance of what they do. They know that they could very well be saving a child’s life.”
Montgomery says his Interquest branch services 26 county and city schools in Tennessee and six county and city schools in Alabama. In his time as owner, Montgomery says it’s proven: the use of canines as a preventive measure works.
“What makes this system work so well is the fact that it’s random and not even the principals know when we’re coming,” he said. “We never search on the same day of the week and we always switch up the week of the month. Eventually the kids realize it’s not worth the risk.”
Although the canines are regarded to be very gentle and nonaggressive towards humans, Goodwin says measures are taken to ensure the animals do not bother students.
“When the dogs come in, we try to contain the searches to the parking lot and the hallways,” he said. “Occasionally, we do search the classrooms, but if we do we make sure the students and teachers are out of the room before we search. We make sure that the dog is in no position to bother the students.”
At the end of the day, Goodwin says it is all about providing a safe learning environment for the students.
“I have 741 kids in this school. When the parents drop their kids off here, they become mine and I take full responsibility for them and their safety,” he said. “Drugs, alcohol and guns have no business in school. If (the canine service) finds just one thing that we need to take care of, it’s absolutely worth it to me.”