Society

Drug-Sniffing Dogs Do Unannounced Search of Salem High School Classrooms in New Hampshire

| by Phyllis M Daugherty

Students and teachers at Salem High School in New Hampshire had unannounced visitors on Friday morning when seven drug-sniffing dogs arrived to search classrooms as part of a cooperative effort with Salem Police.

According to the Salem School District, the specially trained dogs from Salem and surrounding communities searched more than 20 classrooms in two school hallways for evidence of illegal drugs or drug paraphernalia. No students or faculty were present in the rooms as they were searched.

And the good news is that the search turned up nothing, the Patch reports.

This effort was coordinated by the school’s resource officer, Kevin Swanson, and high school administrators. Officers from Londonderry, Plaistow, Hudson and Methuen, MA joined Salem officers and their dogs in this effort.

One goal of such an unannounced search, the school district said, is “to help students and staff maintain a safe environment by realizing these searches can occur at any time.”

The search occurred at approximately 11:30 a.m. while students were at lunch in the cafeteria. School officials stressed that no single factor contributed to the decision to bring the dogs to the school or to search specific classrooms. The search was supervised by canine officers who were accompanied by Salem High administrators.

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DRUG-SNIFFING DOGS SEARCHED NJ HIGH SCHOOL IN DECEMBER

When drug sniffing dogs searched a New Jersey high school, they garnered a much more inflammatory headline by WABC News, which announced “High school raided for drugs in New Jersey,” on December 11, 2013.

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“There's a rather dramatic crackdown on drugs at a high school in New Jersey,” the report stated, “Students and parents arrived at Lacey High School to a show of police force…The students were put on lockdown in classrooms, while drug sniffing dogs walked the lockers along the corridors.”

One parent told WABC, "I was a little frightened, because I didn't know what was going on.”

"The dogs are trained to smell openings. If they give us a positive indication, we let the prosecutor know," said Sgt. James Reilly, Toms River Police Department.

The police explained that “104 people in Ocean County this year have overdosed on heroine. That's way up from 2012.”

“Last year we had 53, we're going to more than double and that totally unacceptable," said Joseph Coronato, Ocean County Prosecutor.

Teens are being targeted to prevent abuse from even beginning, in a region where a heroine has become a drug of choice, he explained.

"Unfortunately heroine on the East Coast is pure and cheap and that's a deadly combination," Coronato said.

This show is part of an ongoing focus on drug prevention in the county, which will likely begin random drug testing in its middle and high schools by January, if it passes the next board meeting, according to the WABC report.

"There are a lot of issues with heroine and whatever they can do to get it away from our kids, I'm for it," parent Lisa Corletta, told WABC.

WHAT ABOUT FOURTH AMENDMENT RIGHTS ?

Derrick Meador About.com Teaching, writes:

“A “dog sniff” is not a search within the meaning of Fourth Amendment. Thus no probable cause is required for a drug sniffing dog when used in this sense. Court rulings have declared that persons should have no reasonable expectations of privacy in regards to air surrounding inanimate objects. This makes student lockers, student automobiles, backpacks, book bags, purses, etc. that are not physically on the student permissible for a drug dog to sniff. If a dog does “hit” on contraband then that establishes probable cause for a physical search to take place. Courts have frowned upon the use of drug sniffing dogs to search the air around a student’s physical person.”

Source: Patch, ABC, About.com