Pubdate: Fri, 28 Jul 2006
Source: Daily Record, The (Parsippany, NJ)
Copyright: 2006 The Daily Record
Author: Navid Iqbal
Bookmark: (Youth)


EAST HANOVER --Things are going to be different in the  two Hanover 
Park Regional high schools starting as  early as September.

Both Whippany Park in Hanover and Hanover Park in East  Hanover will 
be getting full-time police "resource  officers" stationed in the 
schools, Superintendent John  W. Adamus said on Thursday.

He spoke hours after the Morris County Prosecutor's  Office began 
rounding up drug abuse suspects in  "Operation Painkiller."

The investigation resulted in the arrests of nearly 60  people, 
mostly in and around East Hanover, Florham Park  and Hanover, with 
most ranging in age from 16 to 25,  authorities said.

Nearly all are recent graduates or former Hanover Park  Regional High 
School students, authorities said.

Four are current students, Adamus said.

Drug Testing Zeal

The superintendent also said on Thursday that if he  could have his 
way, the high schools would impose  random drug testing on all 
students. State law,  however, doesn't allow such a sweeping testing 
policy.  It limits testing to athletes, students appearing to be 
under the influence of drugs, those who drive to school  and other 
special circumstances, he said.

"I would like to be able to drug test any kid in school  ... if this 
student tested positive, we'd be working  with the family to get the 
student into  rehabilitation," Adamus said on Thursday.

The police in the schools'plan represents a change from  an earlier 
posture held by Adamus.

East Hanover Mayor William Agnellino and Police Chief  Stanley Hansen 
both said earlier this month they felt  resource officers were 
warranted at Hanover Park but  were waiting for a formal request from 
the school  district to develop such a program.

After the death of a former Whippany Park student,  Holly Gillis, on 
July 1, Adamus was asked why schools  don't have full-time police 
resource officers, despite  recommendations from police.

Adamus had replied that an "informal arrangement" with  East Hanover, 
Florham Park and Hanover police who visit  the school occasionally 
was "working quite well."

However, somewhere after the prom night arrest of Gary  Einloth Jr., 
18, of Florham Park, on drug distribution  charges; the July 1 death 
of Holly Gillis, of Whippany,  and another Whippany Park graduate two 
weeks earlier;  and Thursday's arrests, the superintendent and school 
board changed policy.

Request For Cops

Adamus said he and the board of education made requests  to Hanover, 
East Hanover and Florham Park to develop a  resource officer program. 
Town and police officials  said they would be hammering out the 
details of this  plan before the start of the next school year.

"We expect to have resource officers in place in  September,"Adamus said.

School board President Jim Neidhardt did not return a  phone message 
seeking comment.

Adamus also said on Thursday that school officials have  known "for 
well over a year"that authorities were  looking into prescription 
drug abuse at the district's  two high schools.

The recent arrests do not indicate that the regional  high school 
district is any more problematic when it  comes to abuse of 
prescription drugs than other  districts or other towns, the 
superintendent said.  Police and town officials made similar comments.

Parent's Experience

Lois DeCaro, of Hanover, a member of the Substance  Awareness 
Council, who set up a message board that has  been teeming with 
questions about drug use from heroin  to Oxycodone for many months, 
said "obviously we have a  problem."

When DeCaro's son told her he had drug problems, she  said, that was 
the first step in getting him clean.

"My son started using when he was a student at Whippany  Park ...," 
DeCaro said. "Maybe the high school will  admit they have things to address."

DeCaro said she hopes the resource officer will help  the students, 
rather than serve just as a law  enforcement authority. "If that's 
just one kid that's  saved from that hell, it's worth it."

One young Hanover man had a different take on the  Thursday raids, however.

Paul Fenimore, 20, a recovering addict, and Holly  Gillis' former 
boyfriend, who spoke recently at a  Hanover Township Committee 
meeting, said the arrests  may have the wrong effects.

"I don't understand what they think they're going to  accomplish with 
this thing," he said. "It's just going  to make more kids smarter and 
craftier. I guess the  police needed to do something and that the 
only thing  they can do is arrest people. There's no clear answer."

Communication Call

Adamus, meanwhile, called on the Morris County  Prosecutor's Office 
and other state agencies to provide  regular information to him and 
other school  administrators about any patterns of drug abuse or 
other law enforcement issues related to the school-aged  population.

"If we had a little more information from the  prosecutor's office 
about what the trends were, we  would benefit,"Adamus said on 
Thursday, suggesting that  the prosecutor's office set up a "resource 
person" who  administrators can call or even a secure Web site with 
the latest information on trends for school  administrators.

The district's plan for combating drug abuse involves a  three-level 
effort of "enforcement, education and  counseling" with counselors on 
campus ready to speak  with students, Adamus said. Some students may 
not trust  teachers, but he said he hopes the school 
resource  officer would serve in part to combat that mistrust.

He said students are only at the school for a certain  number of 
hours a day and may be too keen to deal drugs  on school grounds. But 
the district will do everything  it can to push the drugs away, he said.
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