LCCA, East Hall High School resource officers welcome two new K9s

By Christian Ashliman Anchor/Reporter
Posted 8:23PM on Tuesday 25th July 2023 ( 9 months ago )

Students at Lanier College and Career Academy and East Hall High School will have new K9s roaming the halls with them when school starts on August 4.

K9 Zena and her handler Deputy Justin Bonds, along with K9 Zeus and his handler Deputy Chris Alford will be joining the SRO-K9 team of Murph and Deputy Zack Marley. Marley and Murph are set to begin their fourth year of service at West Hall High School.

Both the Hall County Sheriff’s Office and Hall County School District plan to share the costs associated with the care and training of the K9s, according to HCSO spokeswoman B.J. Williams.

“We welcome Zena and Zeus to the Hall County team, and we appreciate the role they will play in helping to keep students and staff safe,” HCSD Superintendent Will Schofield said. “For years, these four-legged heroes have brought an undeniable sense of safety and comfort to our schools—whether they are housed in a building with one of our SROs or simply visiting during a search.”

Sheriff Gerald Couch shared Schofield’s sentiments, commenting on his excitement to see more K9 units in Hall County schools.

“I’m proud that we’re expanding the SRO-K9 partnership with our schools and adding this extra layer of security for our students and teachers,” Sheriff Couch said. “No doubt, we have one of the best K9 units in the state of Georgia. I watch our handlers work their daily jobs and then spend additional time every month in training. I admire their dedication.”

The K9s assigned to the school specialize in narcotics detection, but their jobs extend beyond that as well, according to HCSO K9 Unit Sergeant Jeremy Prickett.

“Having the dogs in the schools really helps to build a better relationship with our deputies,” Prickett said. “Sometimes a student may be uneasy approaching a deputy in a uniform about a concern, but having the dog there kind of breaks the ice.”

Zena and Zeus both arrived in Hall County in June from Southern Coast K9 in New Smyrna Beach, Florida and were already fully trained in narcotics detection. Now the dogs have been training with their handlers for several weeks in preparation for the 2023-2024 school year.

In total, the HCSO K9 Unit is comprised of 13 different teams that serve in search and rescue, explosives detection and narcotics detection, to name a few.

Deputy Zack Marley and K9 Murph (left), Deputy Justin Bonds and K9 Zena (middle) and Deputy Chris Alford and K9 Zeus (right) pose for a photo outside of Lanier College and Career Academy.

© Copyright 2015 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.