Bubka, a 6-year-old English cocker spaniel, has been with Warsaw Police Department for the past four years and started patrolling WCHS in April with his partner, WPD officer and school resource officer Brandon Zartman.
Zartman has been the SRO at WCHS for the last two years and thought it would be a good idea to have a full-time K-9 presence to help deter students from bringing drugs to school.
Zartman said marijuana wax – known as marijuana “dabs” – are the main drug problem at the high school right now. He said students put the wax into vape pens, which makes the marijuana hit five times stronger than a joint.
“I filed charges on about 15 kids last semester,” Zartman said. Prescription pills also are prevalent and “acid is making a comeback, unfortunately,” he said.
Bubka is trained in sniffing out and alerting police to five types of drugs.
Zartman and Bubka had to train together for three weeks when they became partners. Part of that training is in commands. The German dog command “such,” pronounced “sook,” means search. Once Zartman says that, Bubka hits the ground sniffing. Bubka’s nose isn’t always on.
“He knows when I say ‘such’ it’s work mode, and when he’s not doing that, he’s just a regular dog,” he said.
Once the dog hits on a narcotic smell, he sits down and doesn’t move until a tennis ball is thrown, Zartman said.
Zartman practices training with Bubka on a daily basis by hiding drugs and having the dog search for them.
“The other handlers were all shocked at how good he is,” Zartman said.
But Bubka’s presence at the high school isn’t to intimidate students. With more than 2,000 students, and students not using lockers anymore, Zartman just hopes students will rethink packing drugs in their bags. Zartman believes marijuana is a gateway drug, and any prevention he and Bubka can be a part of, is worth it.
“He’s not a biting dog,” Zartman said. “Some students would come up and say, ‘Can I pet your dog?’ And then they’d say that was the best part of their day. And that’s rewarding, too.”
Zartman and Bubka will continue to go to other schools in the county at any time to do drug sweeps, he said.
“This is the first dog we’ve ever had in any school in this county,” Zartman said. “It’s amazing what dogs can do.”