Ghost will be the district’s new drug dog, after is predecessor died unexpectedly two weeks ago.
“He’s a certified drug dog in any state. I can take him anywhere in Cobb County,” said Officer Mike Rolfe, who has handled the district’s police dogs for 13 years. “He has his odors down, but now we need to get it all finessed. He is a police officer, the same way that I’m a police officer.”
Rolfe purchased the 3-year-old yellow lab for $3,000 for the district on Monday from a training facility in Paris, Tenn. Ghost is replacing Campo, an 8-year-old Belgian Malinois who had been with the district for about seven years. Campo died May 12.
“Campo was a Lab in a wolf’s body,” Rolfe said with a laugh. “When he passed, we decided to get back to the Labs … every kid here has seen or been around a Lab.”
James Arrowood, the district’s director of public safety, said drug dogs must be friendly to children.
“He’s in a school every day,” he said. “We can have principals that request educational programs or drug searches if they feel something is going on in the school, or we can just pop in and do random searches,”
Rolfe is responsible for caring for the drug dogs, who live at his home. “The dog’s always with him. That’s his partner,” Arrowood said.
Ghost can detect methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and marijuana in lockers, book bags or purses. Rolfe will also take him into every school in the county throughout the school year to help educate students.
“We will talk about drug use, drug abuse and the dangers of drug,” Arrowood said. “We really like to get to the younger kids because the sooner you can get to them, the sooner you can influence them in the right direction.” If he does get a scent of any illegal drugs while on a school visit, Ghost will sit, which gives Rolfe probable cause to check students’ belongings.
“We never search kids: We check kids,” he said. “Search is what you see in jails. In school systems, we check children. That eans
empty your pockets.” Rolfe said they have found drugs in an elementary school, but that is uncommon.
“Primarily, when I come over (to elementary schools), up to about fourth grade, we talk about bus safety, playground safety, strangers. I’m not talking to these children about crack cocaine or meth. It’s age-appropriate.”
Rolfe, whose been training dogs for more than 25 years, said the district has had a police dog for the last 13 years, beginning with a bomb dog named Snow. He was brought in shortly after the bombing at Columbine High School in Colorado.