For college students across the nation, Spring Break is a time to cut loose, forget about homework and grades for a while, and, unfortunately, in some cases, get in trouble with the law or pick up an unwanted sexually transmitted disease. To address these concerns, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Prescott campus put together a Student Safe Spring Break Event on Mar. 6, offering students the chance to eat, socialize, and educate themselves about dangers they may encounter during Spring Break.

With music provided by the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity, free sub sandwiches, and a variety of beach-themed raffle prizes, the Safe Spring Break Event approached serious subjects with a light-hearted attitude. While they ate food and enjoyed the beautiful day, students wandered amongst booths manned by community and campus organizations. The Northland Cares Clinic was in attendance, offering students the chance to sign up for free HIV testing, while next to them the ERAU Sexual Misconduct Resource Team (SMRT) handed out condoms and rape whistles. They also provided information about the services SMRT provides, including tips for preventing sexual misconduct, reporting methods, and sources for victim counseling. The Health and Wellness Center engaged students with a Fact or Crap Sex Information game, rewarding students who answered questions about STDs and sexual myths correctly with condoms and candy.

Meanwhile, the day’s big performers set up for their demonstration. They were the police dogs of Prescott, Prescott Valley, and Yavapai County. All in all about eight dogs, a mix of narcotics dogs and patrol dogs, gave students a taste of what a brush with the law over Spring Break may feel like. Every half an hour or so, the patrol dogs performed attack and handler protection demonstrations on an officer in safety gear, showing off their ability to bite down on a target and not let go. It wasn’t all scary though, officers also allowed students to approach their dogs to show how non-aggressive they are when not in a dangerous situation. Students got to pet and play with all of the canines in attendance—Bruce, a yellow Labrador narcotics dog, was one of the crowd favorites.

In between demonstrations, handlers and police officers from all over the county mingled with students and answered questions. Officer Dan Smith, the lead handler, explained that in addition to demonstrations such as the one at ERAU, the officers train with their dogs eight hours a week to keep their skills sharp. In the Prescott area, patrol dogs are most often used when a suspect runs from the police, or police need to subdue a hostile person, especially in a building or during a robbery. Narcotics dogs spend most of their time sniffing out drugs in vehicle searches and search warrants where drugs are suspected to be involved.

Also in attendance were Officer Art Siegel, an ERAU grad with a Bachelor’s in Aeronautical Science and Master’s in Safety Science, and Sgt. Ben Scott. When asked what students should take away from this demonstration when they leave for Spring Break, Sgt. Scott said students should, “pay attention to what they are doing, who they are with, and whether their drinks have been unattended. Really, its situational awareness and communication. Let people know where you are going, it’s your safety net.” Undoubtedly, this exciting and informative event encouraged many students to create their own safety net before embarking on their Spring Breaks.

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