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St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman to speak on gun prevention in schools

6:39 PM, Feb 26, 2014   |    comments
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St. Petersburg, Florida -- Mayor Rick Kriseman and the St. Petersburg Police Department will announce a new, innovative program they hope will deter kids from bringing guns to schools. 

In early 2013, following the success of the Department's Gun Bounty initiative to get illegal guns off the street, members of the St. Petersburg Police Department came up with an idea to deter kids from bringing guns to schools.

Unlike standard police K-9 teams that are trained to perform a variety of functions, "We obtained two Labrador retrievers that are passive, people-friendly, single-purpose dogs and trained them to search exclusively for guns and shell casings," said Assistant Chief Melanie Bevan, who spearheaded this initiative.

"To the best of our knowledge, this program is likely the only one of its type in the nation," said Mayor Rick Kriseman, "and serves as yet another example of our commitment to public safety and particularly the welfare of our children."

The two Firearms Detection K-9 teams are:

St. Petersburg Police K-9 Officer Chris Ladd and his partner, Macy, a chocolate Lab.  Macy was donated to SPPD by Southeastern Guide Dogs after she did not meet their criteria, yet qualified for their career-change program, "and became a perfect fit for our purposes," Bevan said.

Pinellas County Schools K-9 Officer Dave Harrison and his partner, Roo, a yellow Lab.  She was purchased from a vendor, using funds from the JAG program.

An announcement about the new program will be made at 3 p.m. today at the St. Petersburg Police Department's K-9 Compound.

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