Gun and Bomb Detection Dogs can Help Make Schools Safer

Josh was a valuable asset to the Bibb County Public School System Police Department.  The friendly Labrador Retriever found his first murder weapon while assisting the Macon Police Department when he was less than a year old.  Officers had searched a vacant lot for many hours and were not able to locate the .38 Special caliber revolver but Josh located the gun in only seven minutes.

Detection canines have proven to be an invaluable asset to law enforcement and military personnel for more than a hundred years.  Military detection dogs are currently saving lives by detecting improvised explosive devices and have had an impressive background in this area dating back at least to the Vietnam War.

Josh was put into service as one of the first gun detection dogs working full time for a school district in the mid 1990’s and helped to check student vehicles, student lockers, public areas, book bags and purses for firearms and ammunition.   In the next few years, Josh had about forty hits on ammunition and firearms accessories, mostly from detecting the odor from outside student vehicles in parking lots.  Though he never found a single gun on district property, he did find other murder weapons while assisting local agencies including two guns that had been used to kill a teenager and his baby brother as they slept in their home.

The deterrent value of gun detection dogs can be impressive and the value they can provide in relation to their cost can be equally impressive.  Josh helped to reduce student gun violations in the district from a high of 18 weapons in one year to a low of only one firearm in one year.  While Josh was just one component of a comprehensive approach to reducing weapons in the district, he was definitely a valuable one.

About Michael Dorn

Michael Dorn serves as the Executive Director of Safe Havens International, a non-profit school safety center. The author of 27 books on school safety, Michael’s campus safety work has taken him to 11 countries over the past 34 years.