McKinley County Sheriff’s Office hopes to expand school drug prevention project

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GALLUP, N.M. — John F. Kennedy Middle School and Miyamura High School got a peek at a new drug prevention project making its way to other McKinley County Schools.

"We thought this would be a great tool for law enforcement to work with the kids and the school staff, and just kind of get to know law enforcement," said McKinley County Undersheriff James Maiorano.

MCSO has been performing K-9 demonstrations in schools for years.

“You know, how the dogs find drugs, and it also includes some patrol work where somebody puts a bite suit on–normally our employees – and the dog finds that bad guy, and the kids really enjoy that," Maiorano said.

With increased substance abuse in the Gallup community, the sheriff’s office hopes to perform drug walk-throughs at all 33 McKinley County Schools. Maiorano said they will mostly be educational for elementary kids.

"Once you move to the middle school level and high school levels, if there are reported issues of drug issues there, then we can do more enforcement action," he said. "The school district had already found some drug elements inside of the schools, and the large majority are small amounts of marijuana, marijuana vape pens."

MCSO said a crucial step in fighting substance abuse is education. The earlier students are taught about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, the less likely they are to get into trouble down the road.

McKinley County is 5,500 square miles, and the sheriff’s office only has three current K-9 handlers. MCSO told KOB 4 it hopes to bring in more dogs over the next year.

"We need to be ever watchful of those kids who are showing signs and symptoms of problems, issues, drug abuse, alcohol use,” Maiorano said. “We need to address that with somebody and see if we can get them help and be an active part of their lives, because again, these kids are our future.”