District-wide school K9 program launches in county

KARNES COUNTY – With funding from the governor’s office, District Attorney Audre Gossett Louise is launching an early interdiction K-9 program, Watching Over Our Future (WOOF). 

After applying for and receiving grant funds to pay for the salary as well as the vehicle, every school in Atascosa, Frio, Karnes, La Salle and Wilson counties now have access to free, unlimited K-9 searches at their junior high and high schools. 

Searches are done at random, or on request of the school if there is a specific need. Charlotte, Cotulla, Dilley, Falls City, Floresville, Jourdanton, Karnes City, La Vernia, Pleasanton, Pearsall, Poteet, Poth, Runge and Stockdale have all signed up to be a part of the program.

Louis was determined to start a school K-9 program for a few reasons: 

• The vast majority of criminal dockets are plagued with cases that stem from drug addiction. The root cause of many of our violent crimes and almost all property crimes is drugs, mainly methamphetamine. When prosecuting these cases, defendants are often required by the court to provide details of their drug use. The overwhelming majority of criminals admit they were exposed to drugs during their junior high or high school years and many times at school. 

• Most of the schools cannot justify the cost of a full-time K-9 handler, patrol vehicle and K-9. 

• School violence has become a disturbing trend. Nine students and a teacher were killed at Santa Fe High School in Sante Fe on May 18, 2018. Gov. Abbott invited Louise and several others to meet with students following the shooting. The group asked students how things could be better and what they would like to see at their school. While there were many ideas conveyed, universally, all students wanted increased law enforcement presence. Students all said more visible and frequent visits from law enforcement would make them feel more safe and secure. 

K-9 Investigator Daniel Kaufman is an Atascosa County resident with eight years of law enforcement experience and is an Army veteran. Gerben is a 3-year-old Dutch Shepherd. Since Nov. 8, Investigator Kaufman and Gerben have logged 2,200 miles on the new Tahoe, searched 17 schools, and had five alerts for the odor of narcotics.