Manenberg school pupils last week saw how police dogs give law enforcement some bite.
The Rio Grande Primary School pupils watched how the dogs help Metro police officers sniff out drugs and bring crooks to heel, during a show at the school on Wednesday May 15.
The demonstration was organised by the Metro police dog unit.
Officers staged various scenarios to show what the dogs can do, such as finding a piece of copper hidden in a tyre and obeying commands to sit, stand and lie down.
The pupils also got a good idea of what it feels like to end up on the wrong side of the canine cops’ jaws when an officer wearing padded gear pretended to be a fleeing suspect.
The Metro police canine unit has 25 dogs, 20 of whom are on active duty and specialise in the detection of narcotics, explosives and copper. Three are on training, one is breeding and another one has been seconded to law enforcement’s metal theft unit.
Mayco member for safety and security, JP Smith, said since last July, 120 schools and other organisations had asked for demonstrations by the Metro police dog unit
“We are here to help you and protect you. These are the dogs that will help you and look for you if you are missing. They help you look after your communities and get rid of drugs.
“We want you to be familiar with them; they are your friends. If you are having trouble in your communities, tell your teachers so that we can help you because we are here to protect you,” he said.
Since the start of the year, according to Mr Smith, the canine unit had arrested 48 suspects on various charges, including the possession of drugs and illegal firearms.
The canine unit also does drug searches at schools if requested to do so by principals.
The unit had received more than 80 such requests in the past 10 months, Mr Smith said.
“The dogs are not your enemies, the gangsters are – they are harming our communities by selling drugs, shooting and carrying out criminal activities. We hope that you will trust us and work with us,” he said.
Deputy principal Kader Barendse said intervention was need at a primary school level to prevent children from experimenting with drugs and crime later on.
“They need to see what is right and wrong in Manenberg, and it was important for them to see what training goes into the dogs. It’s important to learn this at primary school level to act as a deterrent for future problems,” he said.
Grade 7 pupil Keziah Fortuin said the show had helped the pupils understand what was happening in their communities.
“Hopefully the children will stop smoking and using drugs,” she said.
Grade 6 pupil Zia Gain said she hoped the show would encourage pupils to stay in school and not drop out and do drugs.