Law enforcement officials discuss being drug free with TCMS students


PRUNTYTOWN—Students at Taylor County Middle School were visited by local law enforcement officials to learn the importance of staying drug free.

Officers from the Taylor County Sheriff’s Department and the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation spoke with the youths about the impact that drugs can have on their lives.

“What you see on television sometimes glorifies drug dealers, showing the money the make or the things they can buy, and that’s a shame,” said Taylor County Sheriff Terry A. Austin. “This is serious business. We have no tolerance for drugs. If I catch you with drugs on you, you’re going to jail.”

He delivered a direct and matter of fact message, telling the students that the choice to get involved in drugs is just that, a choice.

“You can give me any excuse you want to, but I will have absolutely no sympathy for you if you choose that route,” Austin voiced. “This is something that will affect your life, for the rest of your life.”

He explained to the students that through his job, he has seen people who had it all—a good job, nice car, great house and a family who cared deeply about them—and the threw it all away for the chance to get high.

“Don’t fall for it,” Austin expressed. “I hope that I have gotten your attention, but if not, I’m sorry to say, we’ll see you later.”

Following Austin’s talk, the students heard from Taylor County Middle School’s Prevention Resource Officer (PRO) Deputy Zane Dobbins. During his discussion, he addressed the different classifications of drugs, as well as drugs that are commonly seen in Taylor County.

He spoke about marijuana, methamphetamine, heroin and fentanyl. He told the students characteristics of users and signs that someone might be under the influence, as well as the risks of each of the substances.

“There are several different drug categories including, depressants, stimulants, hallucinogens, inhalants, dissociative anesthetics and cannibas,” Dobbins revealed. “Each classification does something different to your body.”

During his talk, Dobbins also addressed the issue of peer pressure, telling the students that it can be a good thing, but also a very bad thing, and that each and every student was responsible for the decisions they made.

“It is important to know that if you or someone you know is addicted to drugs or alcohol, there are people out there who would like to help you,” Dobbins told the student body. “There are so many people who would go above and beyond to help you out.”

“You are so important to every adult in this building. So many people care about you and wouldn’t want to see anything bad happen you. I know I wouldn’t,” he added. “So if you’re struggling, please reach out to someone.”

The students were also treated to a visit from two police canines who have different jobs within the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

In one of his last appearances as a working dog, 12-year-old Brody showed the students how he worked to find drugs within containers. When searching, once drugs are located, Brody would sit to note where the drugs were hidden.

“This is his last week on the job, and he will be retiring next week,” said handler Corporal Joseph Constable. “He has been an awesome k-9 partner and has worked to find lots of narcotics.”

Constable told the students that he came from a family that had people who used and abused both drugs and alcohol, and it helped to propel him into his career.

“I overcame all of that and decided I wanted to do something different with myself,” he voiced. “On of the main ways I did that was by staying in school.”

Corporal Zac Eakle then introduced his k-9 partner, Boss, a six-year-old Belgium Malinois full of energy and ready to work.

“Boss came straight from Germany to train in North Carolina, where we got him from,” Eakle shared with the students. “All of the commands I give to him are in Dutch. He is trained to bite and not let go until I give the command.”

Eakle, with the help of Constable in a bite suit, showed the students the power in Boss’s bite, along with how he follows only the commands of his handler.

The fun and informative presentation was just one step for law enforcement to connect with the youth of the county in a positive manner.

“The drug issue is something that rests heavy on my heart,” Dobbins said. “Through my job here at the school, I have built up a good rapport with the students and wanted to continue that. I think it’s important to show them the positive that law enforcement officials do.”

© 2022-Mountain Statesman

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