NEW BEDFORD – Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson this month gave a formal “tip of the hat” to seven students in the Legal and Protective Services program at Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School. Students Jonathan Alves, Brian Caton, Gregory Desrosiers, Alisha Lemieux, Sarah Lopes, Amanda Pedro, and Dylan Rodrigues visited Sheriff Hodgson at his office in Dartmouth and were recognized for their work on Bristol County’s Iris Scan project.

Iris Scan is a tool used to help identify children or adults if they are lost or missing. Using high-resolution images of the iris of an individual's eyes, it allows authorities to make positive identifications.

A total of 36 students in the Legal and Protective Services program at GNB Voc-Tech have had advanced training in the process and are certified Iris scan technicians. Seven students have already used the process in the field. They have traveled to a variety of sites throughout the region to scan and catalogue children and seniors.

On November 13, those students and their teacher, Atty. Kellie Martin, were invited to Sheriff Hodgson’s office to meet with the Sheriff and Deputy Linda Pacheco. Deputy Pacheco works closely with the students of the Legal and Protective Services program at GNB Voc-Tech.

During their meeting, the students were given a chance to talk with the Sheriff to discuss how volunteerism has shaped them and their future plans. Sheriff Hodgson expressed pride in the Iris Scan project and the students’ work. The Sheriff presented each of the students with Bristol County Sheriff’s Office hats as a way to express his thanks.

The Bristol County Iris Scan program initially covered only children. This year, it was expanded to include senior citizens. This will help if a senior becomes lost due to memory problems or mental illness.

This year, student Dylan Rodrigues will represent GNB Voc-Tech in a SkillsUSA “American Spirit Award” competition involving Iris Scans for senior citizens.

Students Jonathan Alves and Dylan Rodrigues live in Fairhaven. The other five live in New Bedford.

Legal and Protective Services is one of thirty career and technical education programs offered at GNB Voc-Tech. The school serves students from Dartmouth, Fairhaven, and New Bedford.

The school is an accredited member of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.