Cumberland County schools are taking a proactive approach when it comes to preventing school shootings – with a four-legged officer patrolling the hallways.
Meet K-9 Meadow. She’s not here to snort illegal drugs or patrol the streets.
“When she hears the gunshot, she tries to take me in the direction that she hears the gunshots,” said Stephen Manera, campus security officer.
Meadow is trained to patrol school hallways and search for weapons and ammunition. Atlantic County’s first “Skooldog” John “Sonny” Burke K-9 Academy in Corbin City. She currently works with Manera at Cumberland County Tech, Rowan College of South Jersey and Deerfield Township School.
“We’ll walk the halls, patrol the halls, and at lunchtime we’ll go to the cafeteria and basically make sure nothing happens in the cafeteria,” Manera says.
His training is extensive, including teaching him to avoid chaos like screaming and running, and to focus on the shooter and eventually take him down.
“Meadow doesn’t care about people running towards it,” says director Joe Nick. “Meadow doesn’t care about anything but the shooter and she can smell the gunpowder and she knows it.”
Meadow’s name is in honor of Meadow Pollock, who was killed while trying to protect another student in the Parkland shootings.
“The name of the dog is the courage that I would like to see in every dog, every Skooldog.”
Nick says he hopes more schools will consider the proactive approach.
“I want people to give it a chance and I want people to understand that it’s about helping people, giving back, others before ourselves, giving something before asking,” says Nick. “Better school safety, what better could you have with what is happening in our world today.”
Meadow is one of three dogs trained by Corbin City Academy. The other two work in schools in Ohio and Florida. Nick says he’ll be adding a fourth very soon.