K9 SRO is first in the Charlotte County schools

School resources officers in Charlotte County are going to get some backup. This will be the first year that Punta Gorda Police Officer Dean Irving will be joined by his K9 partner, Chase.

Chase is the first and only K9 School Resource Officer in Charlotte County Schools, and the goal? To bridge the gap between school resource officers and students.

“Where the students would never come to an SRO, they would stay away from us,” Irving said. “Now I have students coming in and they just want to play with the dog and pet him and he interacts with them in the hallway and it’s working great.”

Following recent school shootings across the country, many counties in Southwest Florida have beefed up their security measures by adding additional SROs. By bringing in a K9 unit, school officials are hoping to not just add security, but improve student and SRO relationships.

“One of the main goals is getting our kids to see that a police officer is a good thing and they they should have interactions with them throughout school and not just getting in trouble,” said Cathy Corsaletti, the principal at Charlotte High School.

But it’s not all head rubs and ear scratches for Chase, he’s still got a job to do.

“We use him for random vehicle sniffs and make sure there are no drugs coming in the school,” Irving said.

Officer Irving says that Chase has already helped sniff out drugs this year.

The two-year-old black lab can also respond to other emergencies, which is top of mind amid several recent school threats in Charlotte County.

Some parents have even chosen to keep their kids home from school.

The Charlotte High School principal says that they plan to have Chase back again next year. He is one of two K9s with the Punta Gorda Police Department.

Reporter:Taylor Petras
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