FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. — As Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools leaders met to talk about ways to curb gun crimes in schools, the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office gave WFMY News 2 a closer look at one already in use.
K-9 Hondo sniffs out guns and ammunition on school campuses.
In a training session Thursday, Deputy Todd Justice led Hondo down a row of backpacks on the ground. Hondo stopped and sat when he found what he was looking for in one of them.
While he was rewarded with his toy, another deputy pulled out the ammunition inside.
"It blew my mind that there could even be a dog able to detect a firearm," Justice said.
He worked as a School Resource Officer for eight years before becoming Hondo's handler in the spring. The pair run drills like this daily, often inside the district's schools.
"We're at multiple schools a day typically," Justice said. "We can actually use students and staff members on campus with a safe odor - so a cloth that holds the odor - associated with a firearm. They get to participate in keeping their campuses safe."
Deputies let reporters like WFMY News 2's Grace Holland join another training.
What sets Hondo apart, according to the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office, is his ability to track the smell of a gun while moving -- like when a group of students is walking in single file.
In the other demonstration, one person was carrying a gun concealed in their backpack as a group walked in a line.
As Hondo passed the person carrying the gun, he spun and jumped towards them. Inside, deputies found a handgun and ammunition.
It's what he looks for every day, splitting time at 25 middle and high school campuses in the district.
It's a job he and Deputy Justice can't do alone.
School board members are on a search of their own to find other ways to keep guns out of schools. They met Thursday morning.
There were five guns found on Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools campuses in September. One was used in the deadly shooting at Mount Tabor High School.
School leaders are considering clear bags at Mount Tabor and adding random wand checks at some schools. Some board members worry about student privacy.
Deputy Justice said Hondo usually searches several feet away from students. He also works to make sure students see them as friendly faces in the schools.
Hondo is the county's only K-9 dedicated to schools. It cost the Sheriff's Office about $40,000 to buy and train him.