SALEM, Va. – While politicians and parents argue over the best ways to keep kids safe in school, specialized police officers are currently sniffing out the dangers.
"Our dogs are trained to detect explosives and firearms," Virginia State Police Trooper Travis Flight said.
Flight said each K-9 completes an initial 13-week course, then goes through regular training every couple weeks to keep its skills sharp.
"They know that odor and they associate that odor with play and once they find that odor, they know they're going to play," Flight said.
Roanoke City Police officer Travis Barber gave 10 News a demonstration of how his K-9 Gunner does it. Shell casings were hidden in a field and Gunner found them within seconds. Gunner then moved through a line of backpacks and stopped at one with a gun inside.
The K-9s put this training into practice last Friday, after rumors of a weapon at Northside High School.
"I had them put all the backpacks out in the hallways so we could search individual backpacks," Flight said.
Gunner, Flight's K-9 Flex, two other VSP K-9s and one from Roanoke County also swept common areas and lockers. After about an hour and a half, they found no threat.
Flight said he’s 100 percent confident that K-9s with strong senses and strict training will find any hidden threat at your child's school.