BUCKHANNON — There will be a new staff member on patrol at Buckhannon-Upshur High School this semester. This one comes with four paws and a friendly, wagging tail.
Cpl. Rocky Hebb, Prevention Resource Officer at B-UHS, and his new K-9, Buc, will be on the case at the high school, and as needed at other schools and in the community, thanks to a partnership between the Upshur County Commission, Upshur County Sheriff’s Department and Upshur County Schools.
Hebb and Buc graduated from the program at Shallow Creek Kennels in Pennsylvania on Friday.
“It’s a great facility and great instructors,” he said. “Buc had been there probably close to six months prior to when I arrived. They had been training him on narcotics and obedience.”
Hebb went for a four-week handler’s course where he learned how to read the K-9 when he comes into detection mode, what substances Buc is trained to find and wording for search warrants and the other paperwork that comes along with it.
This is Hebb’s first time as a K-9 handler in his law enforcement career but he said the hands-on training through Shallow Creek was extensive and he also has a great partner in Buc, who will turn 2 on March 3.
Tuesday would have been the pair’s first time together at the school with staff and students on-site, but snow closed school for the day.
That first day could come today – if weather permits – or the next day that schools are not closed.
Meanwhile, Hebb took Buc to the high school Monday and planned to take him back Tuesday to get him acclimated to the school and routine.
One of the reasons, a lab was chosen was for their friendly disposition.
The students, staff and faculty will be able to interact with Buc at any time, except when he is sniffing out narcotics.
“He is a very personable K-9 and not aggressive at all,” Hebb said. “He can be petted at any time. He’s a friendly fellow but when it comes time to do some work, it’s time to do work. When he is not trying to find narcotics, they can come up and pet him.”
Some of the students even named the K-9.
“One of the reasons his name is Buc is some of the students asked if they could name him Buc because of the Buccaneer,” he said.
His official paperwork is marked Buck.
Last year, Hebb sought and received support for his idea from the Upshur County Board of Education and Upshur County Commission.
“We wanted to ensure the most safety that we could for the school system in Upshur County,” he said. “Since the county commission and school system went in 50/50 for the purchase of the dog. The dog is also used for road officers who need to perform searches in vehicles or residences and it will be utilized in all schools in Upshur County.”
Hebb and Buc will be used as a secondary K-9 unit when Sgt. Marshall Powers and K-9 Officer A.J. are unavailable.
“I think it’s a great asset to the county and to the school system,” he said.
Hebb first introduced Buc to his own dogs three weeks ago and said that introduction is going “surprisingly very well.”
“That process is coming along leaps and bounds since the first time I had him there,” he said. “Now, we are up to the stage of contact, so it’s coming along very well.”
Sheriff David Coffman said, “I’m very supportive of the program. Rocky and I started discussing this possibility at this time last year. We knew it was going to be a big hurdle but we both thought it was important to possibly implement this program.
“By working together, Rocky doing a lot of research and talking to a lot of people, we found out that a lot of people were behind this and gave us their support.
“I am very anxious to get Buc into the school system,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a great deterrent. If there’s anything I can do as a sheriff to possibly slow down the use of drugs in our county and keep young people focused on other important things, then that is our goal.
“There will be an adjustment period. I feel confident that it’s going to be a great resource for Upshur County and our school system.”
Hebb hopes the community will welcome Buc to the beat as well.
“When they see me out and about, they are welcome to say hi,” he said.