Protecting Our School

Protecting+Our+School

As the bell rings, the last handful of students run to their classrooms, but a man sits calmly on a bench next to his best friend. As they look at each other, the excitement rises. They want to play catch. Their eager faces make it apparent that they are lucky to go to work with their best friend everyday.

Ryan Preston, the full-time resource officer at Lewis Cass High School, did not start his career at the high school. Preston went into the Marine Corps after high school and became a Marine Corps officer. Then, he started the nearly nine month process of becoming a police officer. He worked at the Logansport Police Department for seven years beginning as a patrolman on the day shift and switching to a patrolman on the night shift. At the same time, he worked as a resource officer at Lincoln Middle School. Preston has served as a police officer in Cass County for ten years in total. His uncle, who also served as a Logansport Police Officer, inspired Preston to become an officer as well. He wants to save people’s lives and help those in need. 

Zeno, Officer Preston’s partner, sits next to the officer everyday, and all the students love the pair. Cayl Garland, a senior, said, “He is a great person and officer and we thank him for being a part of our school and protecting us.” Another student, Cana Jones, said “I feel a lot safer walking through the halls knowing that Officer Preston and Zeno are protecting us.” At only four years old, Zeno has served next to Preston for a little over two years now. Zeno’s breed consists of german shepherd and belgium malinois, a hybrid breed 

 called a maliherder. This specific breed was perfected to produce the best dogs for their necessary important jobs.

Zeno, bred in the Netherlands, trained at Vohne Liche Kennels in Denver, Indiana. Von Liche Kennels provides the majority of the world’s military and police trained dogs, making it the top providing dog company in the world. Zeno trained specifically to track, bite, and detect many kinds of drugs. When Zeno turned two years old, he became ready to begin his training at Vohne Liche Kennels. He trained for twelve weeks. Even after finding his handler, Zeno and Preston still have to train and meet the minimum amount of eight training hours for every month. Zeno continually trains to keep his amazing skills up to par. Preston had to go through six to ten weeks of training to learn how to become a K-9 handler. 

Many people think these military and police dogs are mean because they only see the dogs while they work. When the dogs work, biting people is a big part of their jobs. If a person continues to not listen to a police officer’s commands or runs away, the officer warns the suspect that the dog will bite. If they continue to not listen, the handler tells the dog to apprehend the suspect. The dog has to receive the command from its handler to bite. If a tricky scenario involving multiple people takes place, the trained dog will still know who to target and bite. Dogs have very intelligent senses, so they can sense fear and adrenaline. The criminal will most likely feel nervous or scared while running away from a ready to pounce dog, so this means they release hormones that correspond with their fear. The dog smells the fear that is released from the body which helps it determine who the target is. 

Zeno does not only track and bite people, but he can also sniff out many different kinds of drugs such as heroin, cocaine, crack  cocaine, meth, and marijuana. One of the training techniques includes the handler commanding the dog to “sniff out” a collection of boxes by acting as if he will throw a ball. The handler will tickle his fingers which lets the dog know that it needs to search the area. Some of the boxes will be empty, some contain tasty food that the dog would want to eat, and one contains drugs. The dog will sniff each box and when it finds the right box, the drugs cause the dog to alert. Typically, the dogs will alert and inform their handlers that drugs are close by sitting right in front of the box containing the drugs. 

Military and police dogs do not understand the concept of working at a job. They also do not understand the importance of their individual jobs.The only reason the dogs work is to get a ball. These kinds of dogs work for their entire lives just for the satisfaction of a ball at the end of the day.

Though military and police dogs seem mean and scary, they train to become very social. The dogs often visit elementary schools with a large amount of little kids who like to pet dogs. While any normal dog would likely get flustered and maybe aggressive or scared, police dogs will stay calm and gentle. The dogs also go through a certain kind of training to help them become aggressive or gentle when necessary. 

Police and military dogs cannot cower in the corner because they need to be brave. While working, these dogs can stumble upon some very dangerous situations. For example, Zeno has spent many hours tracking in the woods, but tracking in the middle of the night can seem scary. While catching the criminal, the dog cannot hold back and take the risk of the criminal running away.

While interviewing Ryan Preston, I noticed that many myths involving police officers were solved by Officer Preston. He began to bust some facts that he felt were misconceived the most. Some myths solved by Preston include the following:

  • Police officers have to meet a certain quota when writing tickets on duty. Preston stated that police officers do not have to charge people with their crimes unless it is murder.
  • Officers get paid a certain amount of money for each ticket they write.This statement is a myth because an officer does not have to write a certain amount of tickets, and they do not get paid for each ticket they write. For example, an officer could write one ticket or one hundred tickets during a shift, but there would be no difference in their pay. 
  • If an officer does not show up to a court date involving a ticket, the ticket does not have to be paid. Preston explained that police officers have to show up to court unless they are sick. In the case that the officer is sick, the court date will be rescheduled, and the ticket still has to be paid.

A lot of hard work goes into training military and police dogs; both the handlers and the  dogs have to train constantly. Though they might look scary or mean, they are the nicest duo at the high school. Luckily, Officer Ryan Preston and Zeno attend our school every day. When you see Officer Preston and Zeno in the hallway, say hello.

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