Zeke the drug dog and Officer Willie Baker visited Heber Springs Middle School on December 4

Zeke the drug dog and Officer Willie Baker visited Heber Springs Middle School, Coach Jeff Bise’s 7th and 8th grade classes, on Friday.  For the past two weeks the Health/PE classes have been studying the effects of drugs on the body, such as marijuana, alcohol, inhalants, tobacco, heroin, methamphetamines, prescription drugs, and cocaine.  Each student was given the opportunity to write five questions they were hesitant to ask in person, regarding drug enforcement, Zeke, or just drugs in general.  

Officer Baker first described the tasks he and Zeke accomplish together, sniffing out drugs.  He explained Zeke is trained to look for his tennis ball and receives a reward when found. 

“His whole demeanor changes”, said Baker, “In training, Zeke was taught to associate the tennis ball with the four drugs he has been taught to find.”  

Next, Officer Baker picked one from each student’s list of questions and answered them.  Some of the questions were:

How did you train Zeke the drug dog to get drugs?

“This dog associates drugs with something he likes, when he smells the drugs he gets excited because he thinks it is his toy,” answered Baker. “He has been trained to find the top four found in the Cleburne County area; methamphetamine, marijuana, cocaine, and heroin.” 


Why is alcohol safe if you only drink a little?

“Size and chemical reasons help determine the way alcohol affects the body,” answered Baker.  “That’s why there is an age limit for alcohol consumption.  Children under the age of 21 are still developing mentally and physically and alcohol use during any of these stages could cause damage.  It also impairs judgment faster in a younger, smaller, less developed individual.” 

Why do people do drugs if they know they are going to die?

“If we could answer that we could fix the problem,” answered Baker. “Drug addiction causes damage to your brain; it affects dopamine levels.  Dopamine is a chemical in your brain that makes people feel and do happy things, it is essential to normal functioning of the central nervous system.  If drugs are involved, the drug takes the place of the dopamine and the receptors stop producing making it necessary to continue the drugs in order to stay happy.  The addiction is to the rush the drug brings.  The consequences aren’t normally considered.”   

Why do states have different laws? 

“We elect people to create legislative laws to represent their people, answered Baker” 

How long can you live doing inhalants?

“I have an example of this, when I was in high school, a classmate’s parents were out on a date,” answered Baker.  “The classmate had a huffing problem and decided to try to huff propane.  He was trying to get high, not die, and it backfired. His parents came home and found him dead.” 

Why is DUI .08?

“ .08 is a point at which most bodies can’t process the alcohol without affecting equilibrium,” answered Baker.  “Adults found driving under the limit can have someone come pick them up, but under age drinking is illegal and will cause you to be arrested for minor possession and then you can’t get your driver’s license till after you graduate. There is not a Juvenile Jail in Cleburne County, so anyone arrested under the age of 21 will be taken to Juvenile Detention in Batesville, Independence County.” 

What is the worst drug ever?

“In Cleburne County, meth is the number one problem affecting over 90% of drug offenses,” answered Baker.  “It is one of the most deadly drugs there is.” 

How long does it take to quit?

“I met an addict who had been clean for 17 years,” said Baker.  “She explained each day was a struggle not to use, especially if she was going through a rough spot. “ 

The children listened intently, asking and answering questions throughout the discussion.  Officer Baker made it clear to the students that even experimentation with a drug could start a lifetime habit, continuing to cause brain damage as long as it is ingested, and many times for years after the fact.  He explained that over 500 people are charged with drug possession each year in Cleburne County alone, 120-130 is a felony, involving drug sales, meth, cocaine and certain amounts of other drugs.  He visits schools on a regular basis and finds approximately two times a year, drugs are in students’ cars.  

Officer Baker has worked full time in narcotics over 7 years for the Cleburne County Sheriff’s Office beginning in 2007.  He received his training in Camden, Arkansas at the Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy.  Zeke, an 80lb, 6 ½ year old, black lab, was born in Jackson, Tennessee and was trained in the same town at Positive Response Canines, where U.S. Customs train their K-9’s.  Zeke was trained for almost 8 months and then trained further with Officer Baker.   He has a home at the Cleburne County Sheriff’s Office, equipped with a heating blanket, and a special K-9 truck just for him and Officer Baker.