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Drug dogs take ‘test’ at ECHS

Deputy Danny Lambert of the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office takes the test with his K-9 officer, “Ajax.”

Deputy Danny Lambert of the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office takes the test with his K-9 officer, “Ajax.”

Even though school was out, there were still plenty of “four-legged” students roaming the halls of Escambia County High School on Wednesday, June 3.

Police dogs from five local law enforcement agencies visited ECHS for a drug search certification test. The dogs, and their handlers, were given a short amount of time to correctly find stashes of drugs that had been hidden in five different classrooms — marijuana, heroin, cocaine, ecstasy and meth.

Bubba Willard, a certifying official with the National Narcotics Detector Dog Association, said that school buildings make ideal locations for drug dog examinations.

“A school is easier to work with because you have multiple rooms in a centralized location,” Willard said. “Some buildings have small rooms that make it hard to do tests, but the rooms at a school are usually bigger and have more places to hide the stashes.”

Willard said that Deputy Danny Lambert, with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit, helped to coordinate the testing site with school administrators, months in advance.

Lambert took the exam with Ajax, one of the K-9 Unit’s drug dogs, and said that regular certification is important for any dog handler in law enforcement.

“Every year, we’re required to get at least one certification, but I try to get two or three,” Lambert said. “It’s a good thing for officers from different departments to get together like this, to learn from each other.”

Willard, a retired law enforcement officer from Starkville, Miss., traveled to Atmore to administer the exam. Agencies who participated were the ECSO, Conecuh County Sheriff’s Office, Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office, Saraland Police Department and Thomasville Police Department.