Pubdate: Thu, 11 Nov 2004
Source: Parkersburg News, The (WV)
Copyright: 2004, The Parkersburg News
Author: Roger Adkins
Bookmark: (Youth)


PARKERSBURG - In many cases, police are disappointed when they don't find 
drugs during a search.

That wasn't the case Wednesday during a search of Parkersburg High School. 
Detective Greg Collins, training and public relations officer for 
Parkersburg police, said he was happy no drugs were found during the 1 p.m. 
sweep of the school. Drug-sniffing dogs from area departments cooperated in 
the search of the school grounds. Classrooms, lockers, book bags and 
vehicles were searched during the operation, said Ginny Conley, Wood County 
prosecuting attorney.

The dogs indicated the presence of narcotics in three book bags and 16 
vehicles, said police. However, searches of the vehicles and backpacks did 
not produce any narcotics.

Police gathered near the football stadium behind the school before dividing 
into search teams. Each team consisted of a police dog, a K-9 officer, an 
additional officer and a school administrator.

The barking of the police dogs could be heard throughout the halls as the 
search was conducted. Students were locked-down in their classrooms because 
of the search and the last two periods of the school day were not held.

PHS Principal Ralph Board said the disruption in learning was minimal.

Although no drugs were found in vehicles and backpacks singled out by the 
dogs, narcotics likely were present inside them at some point, Collins 
said. Otherwise, the dogs would not have "hit" on them, he said.

Collins said drug-sniffing dogs can detect the smallest presence of 
narcotics. Even if narcotics were kept in a vehicle or backpack for a short 
time and removed, the dogs still would detect the smell of the drugs, he said.

Board said he was pleased with the result of the drug sweep, which was a 
joint effort by law enforcement and school administrators.

"We want them here and they want to be here," Board said.

Board and Collins said the fact no drugs were found during the search 
doesn't mean PHS students do not bring narcotics to school.

"Any principal who says there are no drugs on their campus is blind. I know 
there are students who are experimenting with using. The whole purpose of 
this is to make them think before they bring it to school. We just don't 
want it here," Board said.

Collins said drugs on campus is a problem schools across the nation must 
face. Parkersburg police will continue to conduct sweeps of area schools to 
help keep them drug free, he said.

Board said PHS administrators strive for at least two drug sweeps a year.

Most of the students whose vehicles or backpacks were singled out by the 
dogs gave police permission to search. In some cases, parents provided the 
consent. Collins said this often is an indicator that the person whose 
property is being searched has nothing to hide. Individuals who are 
reluctant to allow searches often are hiding something, he said.

Collins said it is unfortunate to have to put students through the stress 
of having their property searched, but everyone is treated in the same manner.

Some of the students were upset at having their property searched, but 
others didn't seem to mind.

"We take no pleasure in putting someone through all that, but we're serious 
about securing our campuses," Collins said.

According to West Virginia law, a drug-sniffing dog indicating the presence 
of narcotics is probable cause to search a vehicle or other property, 
Conley said.
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