K-9s, gang officers added to Atlanta Public Schools' police force

The school year is just days away for most metro Atlanta districts.

Parents are scurrying to buy back-to-school supplies.

In Atlanta, the district says it has made upgrades to safety and security. 

Starting with Atlanta Public Schools' newest officers, K-9s Aaron, Taki and Tom. They are friendly pooches who are trained to keep our schools safe by sniffing out bombs and weapons. 

Just this past December, K-9s from Fulton County and the Georgia State Patrol were used when Midtown High School was evacuated following a bomb threat.

"We have three EOD and gun detecting canines. They are very docile. They are not aggressive. I think people assume when you start talking about canines, that you're speaking of aggressive biting dogs, if they come across an explosive device they don't need to be aggressive," APS Safety and Security Chief Ronald Applin said.

Another headliner this year, 17 officers who are trained in the Gang Resistance Education and Training program will travel throughout the district.

"I am not saying that gang activity is very active in APS, but we have gangs in Atlanta. Some of our kids are in gangs. That is one of the big things and then fights. Our gang intelligence officer came in and was able to decipher what was really going on," Chief Applin remarked.

Evolv screening, which detects weapons as large numbers of students enter the building, will be expanded to more schools.

The technology is reducing weapons on campus from 31 guns in 2021-22 to just 12 weapons last year.

The message to parents is clear.

"We are going to give it all we got to make sure their kids are safe. Also, I'd say they have a role in sharing with us when there are issues," the chief concluded.

Chief Applin closed by saying his department isn't the only one responsible for safety. Parents, teachers and students have to do their part.