Thanks to Gotcha, a 2-year-old Chocolate Labrador Retriever, the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s School Resource Deputy K-9 Unit made its first drug arrest in late August, according to Sheriff Ken J. Mascara.
Gotcha got the scent of a marijuana cigarette in the ashtray of a 1996 Chevrolet Caprice parked in the student parking lot of Westwood High School on a routine parking lot search by Gotcha and her handler, School Resource Deputy Steve Barker.
When deputies checked to see what student drove the car to school, they questioned 18-year-old Brandon Janard Worthen, of 1918 North 44th Street, Fort Pierce, Sheriff Mascara said. Worthen told deputies he had no drugs in his car and gave permission to search the car. Deputies found the marijuana cigarette, took Worthen to the county jail on a misdemeanor charge of possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana and had the car towed.
“We want parents, teachers, administrators and especially students to know that we have two certified drug dogs working in our school system,” Sheriff Mascara said. “In addition to Gotcha and Deputy Barker, our other team consists of Deputy Barry Boger and K-9 Mollie, a two-year-old Yellow Labrador Retriever.”
The Sheriff thanked Dr. Tim Ioannides, who contributed half the cost of acquiring and training the dogs. The other half came from a St. Lucie County Board of County Commissioners grant. In addition, Tri-County Animal Hospital of Fort Pierce donated veterinary services.
“It’s people like Dr. Ioannides, Tri-County Animal Hospital and the Board of County Commissioners who make the partnership between law enforcement and the public work, while stretching taxpayer dollars,” Sheriff Mascara said.