ALIEF, Texas – Alief ISD is welcoming its newest members of the school district police department: four-legged crime fighters with very special training to keep students all over the district safe.
"We're both young. We want to move. We want to work," said Alief ISD Police Officer William Moncier, holding tight to his partner, K-9 officer Fax, a four-legged 2-and-a-half-year-old Malinois-German Shepherd mix.
The two are partners who are based at Elsik High School.
"Fax is a state-certified officer," Moncier said.
While the district previously had just one K-9 officer pair, the district recently got three more dogs and allocated three more officers to accompany them - resources that officers said many schools in Greater Houston don't have.
"On a typical day, we patrol the hallway. We patrol the outer perimeter of the schools," Moncier said.
Fax was bred overseas in Hungary to be more than just "man's best friend."
"These dogs have a sense of smell that we as humans do not," Moncier said.
As mankind's protector, only the officer can pet Fax or any of the other dogs at work.
"I want Fax to know he's at work when he's at work," Moncier said. "These dogs work five days a week. They have weekends off."
But that's if you don't count the training they do every day, including weekends. Their day starts at 3 a.m. each weekday.
"They're very specialized working dogs, and they're able to detect what they need to find," Moncier said.
Overall, the dogs undergo two-six weeks of training once they come from overseas. Then, they train nine weeks with their officers to help hone their sense of smell and build a partnership with their human partners. At the end of the day, each dog goes home with their human officers.
"We have a great relationship," Moncier said, "My kids love him. He's part of the family."
School, though, is a much different environment. The dogs are specially trained to find anything that can harm students, including basics such as firearms and explosives.
"We could probably clear this whole building in 45 minutes," Moncier said.
The dogs allow Alief ISD to work quickly and not depend on other departments to travel to help sweep a school district, saving time and precious lives, according to Moncier.
"Four is huge. But the day and time that we live in, we actually need four plus more," said Elsik High School Principal Tina Elzy.
"Safety is my number one priority. It's the district's number one priority and having Officer Fax here is added security for us."
Moncier said that if the state needed their services at other schools or elsewhere, they could be called to help.
"The dogs provide vital information to the community," Moncier said.