SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Springfield Public Schools officials have hired a canine handler to regularly search middle and high schools for drugs, bombs and guns.

The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reports that the school board has hired a former Springfield police officer who spent 20 years training police dogs and handlers. School officials say the searches will deter bringing contraband into schools buildings and possibly allow schools to avoid an evacuation if there's a bomb threat. Springfield Public School District 186 has had six bomb threats so far this school year.

School officials say they've previously had police dogs make random searches of lockers and school grounds a few times a year.

The retired officer will be paid $25 an hour. He'll rotate through buildings and work between two to four hours a week.

Information from: The State Journal-Register

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