DeKalb schools turn down offer to restore K-9 unit

by: Amy Napier Viteri Updated:

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DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - Channel 2 Action News has learned DeKalb County School leaders declined an offer to have their K-9 unit return to schools at little to no cost to the county.

September emails and letters from a K-9 officer to school leaders said, "The K-9 Unit would like to offer our services at no cost  …  We will pay for our yearly certification at $175.00 per team."

A letter to former Support Services Administrator Dr. Ralph Taylor said, "We are willing to furnish our dog food and pay for our veterinarian visits."

Parent Lonnise Jones told Channel 2's Amy Napier Viteri she would like to see police dogs back in schools.

"If it doesn't cost them anything, I think that they would want parents to feel that sort of safety for their kids," Jones said.

The unit is composed of four dogs: three drug dogs and a fourth that detects explosives. Channel 2 Action News reported in October the district cut the unit for budget reasons but never informed parents.

The officers still use their vehicles but not the dogs. In September, an email from Taylor's office said the options to use the dogs weren't accepted. It offered no further explanation.

A month later, an email from the director of public safety warned officers, "It appears handguns are on the rise in our schools," and cited two guns recovered that week at Southwest DeKalb and McNair high schools from students.

In February, a principal at Lithonia Middle School emailed the public safety office citing an influx of drugs at the school. The principal wrote, "Obviously, there's an infestation. I understand that the district no longer has a K-9 Unit."

District spokeswoman Lillian Govus said schools can currently call on K-9s with DeKalb County police if needed. She said parents with concerns will have an opportunity to speak out at two planned budget hearing meetings.



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