Richton schools welcome new resource officer, K9

Richton schools welcome new resource officer, K9

RICHTON, Miss. (WDAM) - With the recent mass shootings in America, students in schools may be afraid of what could possibly happen. One student at Richton High School said a tragedy could happen any day.

“You don’t know how their lifestyle is, what their home life is and they could be playing in this any day, it may happen tomorrow,” said senior Kennedy Mills.

To combat threats, drugs or weapons on campus, the Richton School District partnered with the Perry County Sheriff’s Department to hire a school resource officer.

The district of at least 740 students is where Deputy Danny Merritt will walk his turf with his K9 partner, Ace.

“We go throughout 99% of your law force career when nothing’s going to happen to you," Merritt said. “But that 1% could be your life going home or not. So you got to be prepared for that at all times."

While Merritt works to keep students safe on campus, Ace works to keep drugs off the campus. Merritt said he goes into classes to talk with students on K9 safety.

“I have been able to go to different classrooms and teach them about canine safety, about what they do, what they’re capable of and why we shouldn’t bring drones or anything like that to the schools,” said Merritt.

Students say that recent mass shootings in Texas and Ohio were terrifying for them, but having Merritt and Ace around gives a sense of relief.

“So having him being here with us and knowing that if he tells that dog to attack, it’s going to attack, so I feel like a lot of students feel safer with them being there,” Mills said.

“I know many people say it’s not if it happens, it’s when it happens, and I think we got the right resources here,” said senior Brennon Shattles.

Merritt hopes his position on campus and the sheriff’s office can establish a solid relationship with students.

“I want to have that relationship with them that they can see me and not be scared, that they see I can be a friend,” said Merritt.

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