K9 is on the case to keep district facilities safe and secure

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With HISD graduation season a few months away, one super sleuth is sniffing out any trouble behind the scenes – ensuring each stadium or facility is secure for those who will attend the ceremonies. Pretty impressive work for a 3-year-old.

Aries is one of three K9s currently serving with HISD’s patrol unit. He specializes in explosive detection, while his peers, Sasha and Gypsy, focus on narcotics. The canines are all trained to support and protect officers, as well as conduct area searches for drugs, weapons, or other contraband that may be on school grounds or in district facilities.

“Aries is a Malinois, so he’s very fidgety and high-strung,” said HISD Officer Richard Frankie, Aries’ handler. “He’s my sixth canine, so I had to get used to this dog that just won’t sit still. A lot of people think it’s because he’s not disciplined, but a large part is just his breed, and he’s always ready to go.”

Before Aries joined the HISD Police Department’s patrol unit, he was trained specifically for high-risk military deployments. With those skills, the department is able to use him as a dual-purpose dog — both for patrol and explosives detection — including apprehension, tracking, and searches of articles and buildings.

“The patrol unit is a support unit and it’s vital, especially with threats,” Frankie said. “If a school gets threatened during the day, Aries and I are able to come out at night, allowing students to come in the next day and be safe.”

Frankie said despite countless hours of training, it takes a lot of stamina and cooperation from each K9 to keep facilities safe during large events such as graduations.

“It’s very difficult to train a dog for every situation,” Frankie said. “A lot of times, you just can’t predict what environment you’re going to be in, but we can prepare by knowing these events are coming.”

In the meantime, HISD PD is working nonstop to ensure a safe environment for students, faculty, and family members, both during graduation season and beyond. Gypsy is currently in training to join the department full-time, and Officer Frankie said having help from Aries and the other K9s provides the district with a big advantage.

“We want to be able to clear a building … and make sure it’s safe so we can get along with our day,” Frankie said. “That’s a great benefit. It just makes the environment we work in a lot safer.”