McGruff, the crime dog, drums up support for staying off drugs during Red Ribbon Week at Harker Heights High School. Heights senior Niko Rosales, a member of the school’s Crime Stoppers Club and part of the Killeen Police Explorers, wore the costume during a lunch period Wednesday.

Even high school students get a kick out of a big dog greeting them in the hallways.

Harker Heights High School’s Crime Stoppers Club took the opportunity Wednesday to remind their peers to stay drug free.

Niko Rosales, the club’s vice president, wore a McGruff costume. Many students gave the human-sized pooch a high-five during the school’s lunch periods.

Club members also handed out red ribbons, painted tiny ribbons on faces and urged students to sign their names to be drug free. They also handed out wristbands urging students to refrain from texting and driving.

Intermixed in the fun was a serious message.

Rosales, who is part of Killeen Police Explorers, said students need reminders of the dangers of drug use.

“Drugs are horrible and I want to promote that,” he said. “Being drug free is the best thing in the world.”

The Crime Stoppers Club, in its second year at Harker Heights High School, takes part in community service and promotes the school’s police tips line.

Those with information about possible crimes at the school can call (254) 423-2600 anonymously.

Heights senior Danielle Miranda said the school needs to be a safe place for students and that students need to know they can speak up to keep people safe.

Julian Martinez, child safety coordinator for the city of Killeen, stood alongside the students as they promoted drug-free living.

He said the explorer program is growing. High school and college students ages 14 to 21 are welcome to take part in the explorers.

Red Ribbon Week began following the 1985 murder of drug enforcement agent Kiki Camarena. Many KISD schools are promoting anti-drug awareness with special dress days and activities.

The message, Rosales said, is still important.

“A lot of students follow peer pressure,” he said. “We’re here to say don’t do this, to say no. Don’t try drugs even once.”

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