Doggone good time: Parish students see CPSO dogs in action
MONTEREY — In front of dozens of wide-eyed Monterey School third graders Wednesday morning, the newest deputy of the Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office barked his way into the ranks.
But the newest nose around the department still has 15 weeks of training before hitting the streets of Concordia Parish.
Sarge, an almost 1-year-old yellow lab donated to the sheriff’s office, will soon receive training to become a single-purpose,
passive-alert K-9 deputy.
Both Sarge and Jaap, an 8-year-old Blegian Shepard dog or Malinois trained in narcotics detection and human tracking, visited Monterey School and the Concordia Parish Academy of Math, Science and Technology.
For Pam Ganey and Dee Dee Cooper’s classes of third grade-students, the visit couldn’t have come at a more perfect time.
“We’ve been reading a story called ‘Aero and Officer Mike: Police Partners’ that is about a police officer and his K-9 partner,” Ganey said. “The kids have been looking forward to this visit since we started reading the story.”
Apart from seeing both police dogs in action, third grader Kerry King also walked away with his copy of the story signed by K-9 Deputy Dustin Lemoine and Sheriff Kenneth Hedrick.
“It was cool seeing the dogs and meeting the sheriff,” King said. “I have two dogs at my house, but they’re not as mean as these dogs.”
Lemoine showed the students the dog’s ability to find narcotics stashed away in hidden places, just like the dog in their story.
Hiding a small amount of narcotics in one of the school’s lockers, Lemoine walked Jaap up and down the hall until the dog let out a loud bark alerting his trainer and the students — who all flinched at the sound — where the narcotics were located.
But Jaap’s other trick stole the show when he jumped a four-foot fence and attacked a fellow deputy wearing a bite sleeve.
“That was so cool,” third grader Graycie Wiley said. “This dog is just like the dog in our story.
“He does all of the same things.”
And even though Sarge had to sit in Lemoine’s police car during all the demonstrations, he said the newest addition to the team would soon have his chance.
“Once he completes a 10-week training session by himself, then he’ll have another five-week session with his new handler,” Lemoine said. “Once he’s done all that, he’ll be ready to get out on the streets.”
Sarge will visit the same kennel in Laurel that Jaap visited to receive the same training in narcotics detection and human tracking, but with slightly different response methods.
When Jaap finds narcotics hidden away in a vehicle or other location, he scratches the location to alert his handler.
Sarge will be trained as a passive-alert dog and will sit and stare at the location instead of scratching.
“He also won’t be a bite dog like Jaap,” Lemoine said. “He’ll be a tracking and narcotics dog, but just trained as a passive-alert instead.”
The opportunity to introduce Sarge to students in the various schools around the parish is something Hedrick said will increase community involvement.
“We want the kids to know that the sheriff’s office is here to help protect all citizens or anyone not able to protect themselves,” Hedrick said. “We are trying to make every connection possible to let the kids know that we are here for them, and that we are their friends.”