There will be a new face in Opelika Schools this fall.
Gunner, a 20-month-old German Shorthaired Pointer, is the newest firearm detection canine for the Opelika Police Department. He is one of eight dogs on the force, which includes five dual purpose canines, and three single purpose canines. K-9 Gunner will join the School Resource Officer (SRO) Division alongside his handler Officer Jonathon Glover.
The Opelika Police Department began the process of incorporating a canine into the schools last year to further protect students and staff.
“We are constantly assessing the safety of our schools and looking for ways to prevent active attacks from occurring,” says Opelika Police Chief Shane Healey. “We also have one of the best K-9 units in the state, so we felt the best way to address gun safety in the schools was to utilize a detection canine.”
Officer Glover and K-9 Gunner underwent extensive training at Alabama Canine in Northport, Ala, for approximately 7 weeks. In addition to detection work, Gunner is also trained in tracking. Since completing the program, they have spent the past several months bonding and continuing their training.
“When selecting a dog for the schools, we knew we needed one that had a friendly demeanor and a high drive,” says Opelika Police Assistant Chief Kasey Brown, who is also a certified K-9 trainer. “Gunner can safely walk the halls of the schools and will alert his handler to the odor of firearms that may be in a stationary location or concealed on a moving person.”
Officer Glover and K-9 Gunner will begin patrolling the schools in August.
"Safety is our highest priority. This adds another layer of protection for our students and staff," stated Farrell Seymore, Superintendent of the Opelika City Schools. "We are thankful for our partnership with the Opelika Police Department and especially for our school resource officers."