Pubdate: Wed, 30 Apr 2008
Source: Simcoe Reformer, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008 Annex Publishing & Printing Inc.
Author: Ashley House
Bookmark: (Drug Dogs)


Court Ruling A Setback, But Won't Stop Crackdown

Local police and high school officials say a Supreme Court decision 
ending random drug searches won't stop them from cracking down on 
drugs in schools.

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled on Friday that random police dog 
drug searches won't hold up in court because they violate privacy 
rights. The ruling was spurred after a Sarnia student was charged in 
2002 when a random drug dog search found him in possession of 
marijuana and mushrooms at school. Ensuing legal battles brought the 
case to the Supreme Court. The ruling means police cannot do a sweep 
of schools for drugs without prior, justifiable suspicion of a crime.

"(The ruling) definitely interferes with our effort to keep drugs out 
of our schools," said Norfolk OPP Constable Mark Foster. "It was one 
of the easiest ways to detect drugs in our schools. But we have other tools."

Foster said there's a possibility of more drug trafficking or 
possession on school property because of the ruling, but warned 
students the police force will continue to be diligent in keeping 
drugs out of schools.

"Our high school officers and patrol units will continue to be 
observant and act on any tips or knowledge they have or get from 
students," Foster said.

With enough information, police can still apply for a search warrant 
for a particular locker.

Foster said the possibility of dogs coming in at any time kept 
students wary of bringing their stash to school. The intention of the 
random searches, Foster said, wasn't always to lay charges, but 
ultimately to create a drug-free school.

Holy Trinity principal John Burroughs has had drug-sniffing dogs in his school.

"But it was never at random," he said. "We always had reason to 
believe there were illegal substances in the school and the sad thing 
is, we were right."

While Burroughs disagrees with the Surpreme Court ruling, he said the 
school will continue to crack down on drugs.

"Now, we, ourselves become the drug dogs," he said, adding the school 
has a good informant system that has served him well. "There are a 
lot less drugs in the school than four years ago. Students know they 
can leave me an anonymous message."

Helene High, principal at Simcoe Composite School, said she and her 
staff continue to reserve the right to search students' backpacks, 
lockers and jackets but they aren't looking to charge students under 
criminal law.

"We just want the drugs out of here," she said.

"If we have reason to believe they are in possession of illegal 
substances or weapons, we, as administrative staff, reserve the right 
to search them."
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