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Sniff: Terre Haute police K-9 officer Terry John and his dog "Jasper" work the parking lot of South High School Wednesday afternoon.

No, Johnny. Those aren’t your average dog-walkers out in the school parking lot.

K-9 officers from the Vigo County and Clay County Sheriff’s Departments and Terre Haute police met to sniff out the student parking lot of Terre Haute South Vigo High School at 1 p.m. Wednesday. Vigo County Sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Frank Shahadey said the search is just one of several in the ongoing effort to keep area schools free of illegal drugs.

“After having done these searches before inside, the kids know not to leave the contraband in their lockers,” said Shahadey, who also serves as the security director for Vigo County schools. “So instead they leave the drugs in their vehicles.”

The interagency effort included two dogs from Terre Haute police, one from the VCSD as well as one from the Clay County Sheriff’s Department.

Troy Fears, principal of Terre Haute South, said the process is ongoing, random and unannounced.

“We try to do it two or three times a year, both inside the school and outside in the parking lot,” Fears said, adding that the goal is as much to deter students from bringing drugs as catching those who do.

Students’ vehicles are registered with school authorities, Fears said.

Students whose vehicles are “hit on” by the K-9 teams are then asked to come outside and unlock the doors for school authorities to search. Police do not actually search the vehicles, but if school officials find drugs, then the student can be arrested on the spot.

“Once the cars are on our property we do have the right to search them,” Fears said.

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