Connecticut School Fakes Lock-Down to Search for Drugs

| by Reason Foundation

By Lucy Steigerwald

Via the Agitator comes this microcosm of the drug war, courtesy of Wolcott High School in Connecticut:

An urgent announcement crackled over the intercom: a threatening intruder was in the building and students were told to immediately take refuge in classrooms.

Doors were locked and police, with dogs, moved in. Students stayed huddled in classrooms where they were told to stay away from the windows.

But what sounded like a frightening situation was just a search for narcotics. Drug-sniffing dogs combed the school while students stayed in locked classrooms, believing that an attacker was roaming the halls.

Lock-down drills are common school policy. You could make a very dubious argument that an intruder drill has to be believable/terrifying to be worthwhile, though incidents of school violence -- particularly at the Columbine or Virginia Tech level -- are of course wildly over-hyped. You could make a worse argument that children need to be searched and treated like criminals in the name of saving them from life-ruining addiction.

"We wanted to practice,'' said Superintendent of Schools Joseph McCary. "We said there was a lockdown with an intruder inside. Doors are locked, shades are drawn and the lights are turned off and students are told to move to a corner of the room."

"After 10 minutes we say this is a drill and at that point we started a search for drugs,'' McCary said. "We are providing a safe and secure nurturing environment."

No drugs turned up in the search. An email from the high school to parents explained the event, without mentioning the intruder story. It was described as a "lockdown intervention drill" where "two police dogs swept the hallway lockers, locker rooms and the student parking lot.''

Andrew Schneider of the Connecticut Civil Liberties Union thinks this is a bad policy because, among other reasons, "Young people will learn not to trust the police."

Reason on zero tolerance absurdities, on the militarization of police, and on the drug war. And Radley Balko on how dogs are too awesome to be very good at finding drugs.