County commissioners have an agreement with the Chelan County Regional Justice Center (CCRJ) to have K9 Kait working in some area schools. Mostly in a PR or goodwill capacity but if needed to identify contraband on school property.

During the recent Chelan County Podcast, Commissioner Shon Smith said the agreement will serve an important public outreach opportunity for K9 Kait and her handler,  Corrections Deputy Jacob Lewis.  Lewis heads the CCRK Drug interdiction Unit.

"She is a sweetheart that is providing incredible service to the jail and keeping the inmates and staff safe when we're talking about keeping drugs out of the jail system and expanding that over to the school system" Smith said.

Commissioner Smith sees the program as an opportunity to show kids "a softer side of the jail system and incarceration" but also the tools needed to keep the jail safe. "It's a great way to outreach to the kids".

K9 Kait would typically visit schools on public or community relations visits and "not to do a drug bust".  K9 Kait would be working only when a school resource officer has probable cause for instance, to conduct a locker that needs to be checked out or if suspected drugs need to be identified.

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Smith says otherwise, if she was going to the school, she's just there to meet the kids, give her more environment to experience than being in the Chelan County Regional Jail every day.  Since the jail K9 program is mostly supported through community and business donations, Commissioner Smith thinks the outreach is another way for the jail to give back to the community.

"I think it's a great way to outreach not only between the jail  and the resources they ask for, but also let the community see that they're doing other things"-- Commissioner Shon Smith

So far Eastmont, Watervile, Bridgeport, Chelan, Entiat and Manson School Districts have signed onto the program.  Smith says there are openings for two more school districts with hopes the Wenatchee and Cascade school districts will join.

The program will come at very little expense, essentially fuel expenses when there is a call for a drug search.  Goodwill visits to schools will cost the jail nothing according to Smith.


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