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Students at Newton-Conover High school will notice a new face roaming the halls of their school next year â€” only this one will walk on four legs.
Newton City Council recently approved a budget that included funding for an additional K-9 police officer to be handled by a new school resource officer Jeff Longstreet.
The K-9 will be with Longstreet every day, said Newton Police Chief Don Brown.
â€śItâ€™s not a great need at the schools, but I thought it would be a good tool there,â€ť Brown said.
The new K-9 is being paid for by asset-seizure funds, which is the money generated through taxation of criminals found with large amounts of illegal property, such as drugs.
â€śWhen someone is arrested and charged for having large amounts of drugs, they are taxed on these drugs,â€ť Brown said. â€śThe money from the tax goes to police departments.â€ť Â
Thus, Brown said the K-9 is being paid for through non-taxpayer money.
Brown said he hopes to have Longstreet trained with the K-9 before school starts in August. The K-9 dog can cost between $7,000 and $10,000, Brown said.
â€śIt is a great tool for inside the school,â€ť Longstreet said. â€śItâ€™s going to be one more step to making it a drug-free school zone.â€ť
Longstreet said the dog will be with him every day either in, or around, the school.
Longstreet came to the Newton Police Department in November 2010 after serving as the school resource officer in Hickory. As the SRO, Longstreet said he gets to interact with teens more than most officers.
â€śItâ€™s different that you get to build a relationship with the students inside the school,â€ť Longstreet said. â€śAnd youâ€™re trying to make it an officer-friendly area where they can come to you. Unfortunately, you see that kids donâ€™t like the police much, but I think that being inside the school helps.â€ť
Longstreet said there are usually no problems in the schools, but has to break up fights and deal with minor larcenies from time to time.
Newton-Conover High School Principal Kevin Campbell said he does not see the new K-9 and SRO is a positive addition to the school.
â€śI think that anything we can do to make students aware that these are tools to help combat certain problems is certainly a good thing,â€ť Campbell said.
Campbell said that Newton Police Department has brought their current K-9 by the school in the past to do locker and car checks for drugs.
â€śI can definitely see that being a benefit for the school resource officer to have that,â€ť Campbell said.
When asked how common drugs are inside the high schools, Longstreet said, â€śitâ€™s like anywhere else, there are places you can go to get it.â€ť
In the end, Campbell said the new K-9 and SRO will be a positive addition to their school. Â
â€śWe donâ€™t see it as a negative at all â€” we see it as a positive,â€ť Campbell said. â€śWe would be interested in working with the police department in any way to help out.â€ť