Expanding Trend: Patrolling High Schools with Drug Dogs

Simsbury High School in Hartford, CT is joining a troubling growing trend: Employing cops with drug dogs to routinely patrol the halls, conducting random searches for drugs. What other schools have recently added random drug dog searches? To name just a few: [More...]

A federal judge in Missouri last month upheld drug dog searches at Springfield schools.

Some parents in Sag Harbor (Long Island) are protesting.

Do we want our middle and high school building to mimic a prison?” parent Marianna Levine asked school board members at a regularly scheduled meeting on Monday....She argues that bringing in a police K-9 unit would essentially create a dynamic similar to a “totalitarian state” where students are stripped of their rights.

Why aren't all parents protesting? No wonder people think education is going to the dogs.

Drug dogs have been increasingly shown to be fallible. What happens when a search following an "alert" on a locker turns up nothing? Police can say there must have been drugs in the locker at one time, and that's what the dogs are smelling. But if sniffing dogs can't tell the difference between the odor of drugs presently in a locker and the odor of drugs that were once in a locker, how does an "alert" make it probable that drugs are presently in the locker? Or maybe they just say, "Bad dog!"

The police should spend their time (and our tax money) investigating real crimes, not ambiguous odors.

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    Parent's aren't protesting (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by MyLeftMind on Tue Feb 14, 2012 at 02:48:17 PM EST
    because lockers aren't private property, they're just a convenient place to store books and supplies you don't want to lug around to classes.

    Also, lots of parents would be relieved if the cops did find drugs and arrest the owner before he or she could distribute them to other kids.

    Even if you think it's OK for your kid to experiment with some drugs, you don't want them buying potentially dangerous drugs that are made and/or imported by strangers.

    Relieved? (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by kdog on Tue Feb 14, 2012 at 03:42:44 PM EST
    Much more likely, parents will be panicking as they rush to the precint to bail their precious snowflake out of a cage.

    Honest open dialogue is the play if you wanna try to keep kids away from drugs...this gestapo sh*t only makes kids sneakier, and puts them in more danger.


    Not true. (none / 0) (#6)
    by MyLeftMind on Tue Feb 14, 2012 at 04:15:03 PM EST
    I'm a parent and I have open, honest dialogue with my kids. I grew up smoking pot and trying pretty much whatever came across my path from 7th grade onward. I trusted my friends who were supplying the drugs, without realizing that some greedy manufacturer could put whatever they wanted into their "product" because it would change hands many times before it finally made it to our schools. The same is true today, from pot to heroin. It's not just an issue of quality control and dosage of hard drugs; even pot has additives you wouldn't want in your body.

    I've shared my mistakes with my kids, and I'm honest about which of our friends and relatives still smoke pot or do other drugs. My kids have come to their own conclusions about substances, and I think they've realized that a life of casual drug use is pretty detrimental to one's health. But they still have to deal with peer pressure. I don't expect them to never be exposed to drugs. But I would like the school to be a reasonably drug-free space so my kids can focus on more important things, like education and social development.

    If some parents want their kids to have access to drugs because they believe it's a personal liberty issue, they should try to ensure their kids keep it out of the schools. Because other parents don't want the intense pressure that easy access to drugs provides.


    Not for nothing... (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by kdog on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 08:34:39 AM EST
    it is prohibition that makes illegal drugs so available to kids.

    It hasn't been too long since I've been out of high school...the hardest drug for us to get our hands on back then was alcohol.  It was easier to buy heroin.  How could that be?  Prohibition.

    Some people want to keep their kids away from drugs and dog-toting armed men with arrest powers in school...neither one is conducive to a learning enviroment.


    Um (none / 0) (#24)
    by jbindc on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 02:11:41 PM EST
    Heroin was prohibited when you went to school too.

    Unless you're 150 years old.


    that's the point (none / 0) (#25)
    by CST on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 02:14:53 PM EST
    the hardest drug to get was the only legal one - alchohol - because people wouldn't sell to minors (especially high school minors).  Whereas if you are buying pot, heroin, etc... whoever is selling it doesn't care how old you are - they are breaking the law anyway.

    That was my experience at least, booze was usually the hardest to get in high school.


    Exactly... (none / 0) (#26)
    by kdog on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 02:16:48 PM EST
    heroin was totally prohibited in '94-95.  I could score a bag of that in the cafeteria if I wanted.  

    Alcohol, otoh, involved begging somebody's older sibling to sort us out.  

    It was (and still is, imo) easier for a minor to score illegal drugs than booze.  Because of prohibition.



    you are missing the point (5.00 / 3) (#7)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Feb 14, 2012 at 04:17:37 PM EST
    the point isn't whether it's a public or private place, or whether the use of dogs is legal, it's the idea of subjecting students to the routine presence of cops and drug dogs and changing what should be a nurturing, positive environment into an authoritative one that instills fear.

    It's particularly unfair to kids that don't use drugs.

    Parents and educators shouldn't rely on the Government to teach their children about drugs. I doubt the fear of getting caught will motivate any kids not to use drugs. They'll just adapt and keep the drugs elsewhere.


    That's a pretty good outcome (none / 0) (#9)
    by MyLeftMind on Tue Feb 14, 2012 at 04:58:02 PM EST
    if they have to keep their drugs elsewhere. At least then the peer pressure is less immediate and easier for other kids to refuse.

    I don't want cops in the schools, but I know from experience that it's also scary when other students are given free rein to bring anything they want to school. That's not a nurturing, positive environment for students who don't want to be pressured into proving they're cool by partaking in whatever their friends offer them.  

    To tell you the truth, I wish my parents, community and school hadn't been so lenient and accepting. I understand where you're coming from in terms of non-authoritarian environment, but I still think there's value in preventing easy access to drugs. Can you think of a non-cop solution?


    Absolutely. (none / 0) (#3)
    by Gerald USN Ret on Tue Feb 14, 2012 at 03:41:09 PM EST
    I don't want my kids exposed to drugs or people selling or on drugs.  Same thing for guns or knives.

    Check out the "News."  Drugs kill.


    And they say I live... (5.00 / 4) (#5)
    by kdog on Tue Feb 14, 2012 at 03:55:14 PM EST
    in a fantasy world;)...

    Hate to be the one to break it to you Gerald, but your kids will be exposed to drugs, people doing drugs, and people selling drugs.  It is part of life...all the cops and dogs and searches in the world won't change that fact...believe me, we've tried for over 50 years and failed miserably.

    The best way to try and keep kids away from drugs until they're adults is honest open dialogue.  Education.  Love and understanding.  These kinda tactics only make the kids sneakier and more secretive, which don't help nobody.  


    No kdog... (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by ScottW714 on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 12:19:15 PM EST
     ...the best way to keep kids off drugs is treat them like they are like they are in Jewish ghettos of the 40's.  Roaming the hallways (streets) with German Shepards so they know who's the boss and scared at all times they are being watched.

    Kidding of course, but these parents, they are so scared they can't think straight.  How did the world manage to function without in the past without completely falling into chaos, which seems to be the philosophy.  What's next, moving the airport scanners into the school and parents rising up to congratulate the school...

    If I ever had kids, I would hope that I think that I would give them the skills and have trust enough to know they are going to shoot stuff from a stranger into their veins.  My god, even here by people who claim to be left, they have zero faith in their offspring, they act like their kids are so weak mentally that any shrap of deviance will surely influence them into a life of utter despair.

    And that no cost of their personal liberties/dignity or even legalities should be sacrificed so they never are exposed to anything bad.  Not realizing at 18 those exposures will not be regulated by mom and pops and that they might actually need some skills in declining bad stuff.

    In college, the kids on shortest leashes were the ones breaking out and binge drinking or over experimenting because they never had to make tough decisions in high school and unprepared when it was their choice.


    Heh, metal detectors (none / 0) (#28)
    by MyLeftMind on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 12:22:16 AM EST
    are what protect my kids from the ones that bring guns and knives to school.

    Nope, I don't mind the schools doing whatever it takes to make a safe environment for those kids who already choose not to break the law.

    Take your drugs and guns elsewhere. These are our schools. AND if you can think of a better way to make the school environment drug and gun free, I'm all ears.


    Drugs in school (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by barbarajmay on Tue Feb 14, 2012 at 03:26:12 PM EST
    Good God.  Is dope in our schools really the biggest problem?

    How about using them (5.00 / 0) (#8)
    by Edger on Tue Feb 14, 2012 at 04:36:49 PM EST
    to sniff Capitol Hill offices for bribes?

    I am troubled by the way (5.00 / 3) (#11)
    by eric on Tue Feb 14, 2012 at 05:24:28 PM EST
    in which these kids are being conditioned to live in an authoritarian state.  The searching and monitoring of kids these days is significant.  Everything from locker searches to parents being able to monitor every detail of their school work in real time.

    I wonder what kind of people come out of a system that affords them so little privacy or trust.  

    I don't know what world you're living in, (none / 0) (#13)
    by MyLeftMind on Tue Feb 14, 2012 at 06:50:19 PM EST
    but our local high school is a pretty child-empowered environment. It has an open campus, so students can come and go without signing in or out. If they skip school, the parents are notified the next day, because the law requires notification.

    "Everything from locker searches to parents being able to monitor every detail of their school work in real time."

    Parents can monitor grades online, but they don't have a say in what classes their children take. In fact, if a kid drops a class, the school doesn't even have to notify the parent. I wouldn't ever force a high school age child to take a class they didn't want to take, but no parental notification when they drop a class is a pretty non-controlled environment.

    Personally, I'm not concerned about my kids' lockers being searched. I talk to them and empower them as much as possible and I trust them to make good decisions. I know from experience that it's very hard to resist peer pressure, and the more permissive we are about drugs, the more prevalent they are in a child's environment, the more likely they are to be talked into using them.

    Aside from the "authoritarian state" issues, wouldn't it be in the interests of kids who don't want to use drugs to have a drug-free environment? What about their needs? If they have friends who use drugs outside of school, they can choose not to hang out with them. But you have to attend school. Don't they, and the teachers, deserve an environment where the expectation is that drugs won't be available? It's sort of like weapons in school. If you are in a location where kids often bring guns to school, you have to put in metal detectors to protect the rest of the students from those who break the law.


    comparing a student who (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Feb 14, 2012 at 11:25:04 PM EST
    brings guns to school with a student who has some pot or other drug is absurd.

    Why am I not surprised you have no issue with parents monitoring grades online? I find that completely disrespectful and just as much an invasion of privacy and demonstration of parental lack of trust as listening to their phone calls, checking their text messages, reading their mail and monitoring their location by GPS. Have you thought about the effect of these actions on a child's self-esteem?

    As for you not caring that your kids' lockers might be searched, why don't you try and view it through their eyes instead of your own?

    As for this statement:

    I know from experience...the more permissive we are about drugs, the more prevalent they are in a child's environment, the more likely they are to be talked into using them

    You know no such thing. That's your opinion. You're entitled to it, but you may not post unsupported opinions as fact, especially on issues that go to the heart of this site.

    With all due respect, you've stated your position a few times now. We get it. Enough. I'm not hosting a drug warrior or pro-police rights forum. Disagreeing viewpoints are allowed when they don't misrepresent opinion as fact and in moderation. Our comment rules limit such comments to four per topic, and you've reached your limit.


    We can monitor our middle school son's (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 11:44:23 AM EST
    grades online. Not only is it not disrespectful, but my son actually asks us to do it.

    As a parent you monitor your child's grades. You monitor your child's graded tests, homework, projects, etc. on a weekly or even daily basis when they come home from school.

    You encourage and cheer lead when needed, and help your child figure out solutions if things are not going as well as expected.

    What you can't monitor is what doesn't come home, like if the child missed an assignment. You don't know what you don't know. With the online system you can see every assignment, its grade, and whether it was done or not.

    My son asks us to monitor it with him because sometimes he misses stuff and he likes having a second pair of eyes to double-check.

    Just like I do when I'm doing something important at work or whatever, I get a second pair of eyes to review because I know I need it...


    Drug warrior or pro-police rights? (none / 0) (#27)
    by MyLeftMind on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 12:16:02 AM EST
    Hardly. I didn't even mention police rights. In fact I asked if there are other solutions that would keep drugs out of our schools.

    Children need and deserve our protection. If you're OK with kids using drugs, you might think it's intrusive to prevent them from bringing drugs to school. I prefer to provide all children with a drug-free environment at school, especially since they have to attend. Those families who don't mind drug use can allow it at home, especially if they feel it's too intrusive to interfere.


    From the linked article (5.00 / 2) (#12)
    by NYShooter on Tue Feb 14, 2012 at 05:59:00 PM EST
    the only reason the court found the searches to be constitutional was that the judge said they were. I suppose they could use the pretext that the lockers were school property, but how about backpacks? By their reasoning then athletes, cheerleaders, and band players wearing school uniforms could be searched any time, for any reason.

    I`m no lawyer, but it sounds like prior restraint, unreasonable search, and probable cause only mean whatever some bureaucrat says they mean. And, the basis for that deduction is usually whatever their political finger held aloft tells them they mean.

    No matter how they parse it, it sucks.

    Maybe they could (none / 0) (#18)
    by Edger on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 09:14:28 AM EST
    pre-emptively search the kid homes when they register in a school, and save the cost of the dog searches. :-/

    Cars as Well... (none / 0) (#21)
    by ScottW714 on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 12:34:03 PM EST
    ...because the train of though here seems to be that exposure = usage, so any parents partaking surely will expose a lot of kids and since they have no free will to decline, that parent needs to be weeded out and I can only assume buy the comments, locked up long enough to not have magical powers over their kids.

    How did we ever make it out alive...


    If we just (none / 0) (#22)
    by Edger on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 12:40:28 PM EST
    arrest everybody the day they're born, put them in prison and never let them out, the problem would be solved overnight.

    Lockdowns and drug dogs in schools (5.00 / 2) (#14)
    by womanwarrior on Tue Feb 14, 2012 at 08:26:13 PM EST
    I tend to think that peer pressure to use drugs is overrated.  I knew who was using when I was in high school and where, but I didn't go there.  And they were some of the cool people.  

    My kids knew who had the drugs and who were going to have the drinking parties, but they didn't go to them.  Maybe it was our honest conversations about it and maybe it was the conversations they heard about how our clients' lives were ruined with drug convictions and sentences.  Our kids had a longer view about their futures and wanting to go to college.  I have a lot of clients who don't believe they have a future.  They don't think long term but only about what they want now.  

    I think schools that are full of police are a big mistake.  My kids were in several "lockdown" exercises where the police practiced reactions to possible violent situations.  The kids hated it. It gave the nightmares and they considered it a waste of time, saying they weren't even allowed to read while they were locked in their classrooms for an hour. I hated it too and I complained about the use of prison terminology in the educational setting. Prisoners are "locked down" when someone violates the rules.  My kids had not violated the rules.  But we are surely training all of us to live in an authoritarian state, where we have to show our id's to get into office buildings and even at our doctor's appointment where they know who we are.  I wish I lived in a free country.  

    People who are constantly conditioned to (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by Anne on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 02:10:01 PM EST
    be afraid - by the government, by the media doing its part to spread the government's fear-laden message, by the those who stand to profit financially from perpetuating it - are so much more easily convinced that to be safe, they have to let the government do what it says it has to.

    Meanwhile, of course, we probably have more reason to fear the government itself than we do the long - and getting longer - list of things the government keeps telling us we need to be afraid of.  I've come to believe that if the fear-mongering precedes some new initiative that intrudes further into our privacy, or further erodes our rights, chances are it's a manufactured fear.

    Just last night, there was a news story about the lead levels in lipstick - it was previewed and headlined as something along the lines of "the cosmetic that poses an unexpected danger."  The bottom line, after all that ooh-this-is-scary reporting?  That the lead levels posed no risk or danger.  Be afraid, but don't be afraid.

    Use fear of another 9/11 attack to wage war, erode rights, spy on Americans at will, grope and x-ray people in airports, search, detain and disappear people, torture, kill, assassinate.  Listen to the fear-mongering about Iran - the media once again carrying the government's water by brainwashing the people, so that we'll be less resistant whenever it is that the next "something" we "have no choice about" happens.  

    Create such a climate of fear that when schools send the letter home about dog-assisted searches, it seems like a better-safe-than-sorry kind of thing.  Because, you know, if we're not doing anything wrong, we have nothing to be afraid of.  Right.

    Tell me, are they searching the faculty lounge?  The teacher's desks, lockers and personal belongings?  No?  Well, why not?  I'd bet there are at least as many drugs - legal and otherwise - in the possession of the adults responsible for the education and safety of our children as there are in the kids' lockers.

    The fear - it's everywhere.  And preying on parents' fears about their kids is like a magic button that, when pushed, guarantees that authority figures will be able to do whatever has to be done to keep the kid safe - parents spend more time being afraid for their children than ever.  How can we let kids have any privacy?  They might be preyed on by sexual deviants on the internet, kidnapped from the school bus, poisoned by Halloween candy.  They could be killed in a car accident, break their necks on the football field or the cheerleading squad.  Get pregnant, have an abortion, be gay, be socially ostracized.  And then there's peer-pressured fear - they didn't sit up or roll over early enough, didn't walk when all the other babies did, didn't talk as early, might not get into the right pre-school, won't be smart enough to get into Harvard, won't be the dream child they can brag about to all their friends.

    It's a sickness at some levels.  I know parents who stalk their kids' Facebook - their college-age kids, mind you.  Have to know every detail about every breath their kids take.  Why?  Because they're afraid of everything.  

    We are captive to the fear, and you need only look at how much the government has taken from us to understand why that works for them - and until we reject the fear-mongering, it's just going to get worse.

    one more for your list (none / 0) (#10)
    by dnew on Tue Feb 14, 2012 at 05:13:49 PM EST
    Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach, CA.  I was wondering if this legal.

    They are just (none / 0) (#17)
    by Edger on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 09:12:45 AM EST
    preparing the kids for their future.

    Once again I'd like to see (none / 0) (#29)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 04:56:10 AM EST
    the certifications on these dogs.  How many times have we all seen cadaver dogs be "wrong"?  The dogs are being used for intimidation purposes only.  I'm willing to bet the people getting their lockers searched are chosen by people before they are chosen by a drug dog properly trained and certified and current in training.