HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Drug-Sniffing Dog Patrols School Hallways
Pubdate: Wed, 30 Oct 2002
Source: Grand Forks Gazette (CN BC)
Copyright: 2002 Sterling Newspapers
Author: Paul J. Henderson
Bookmark: (Youth)


Recently another student at GFSS got busted for marijuana possession but 
the routine drug dog patrols that nailed him anger some parents and civil 

"I'll tell you what I think about this," says Murray Mollard, the executive 
directive of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, "I think it is a 
terrible message to youth about the random use of police agents to 
essentially suspect everyone of having drugs in their possession."

Schools have an important role in drug education and this heavy-handed 
practice of monthly drug-dog patrols is no way to treat young people, 
according to Mollard.

"This sends the wrong message to children and is ultimately an extension of 
an American mentality of the war on drugs.  I'd like to see schools 
engaging with students in a mature way in which they have open and frank 
discussions about drugs and not an authoritarian police state."

But superintendent Denny Kemprud says there is nothing strange about random 
police dog checks and they are necessary to protect students.

Despite incredulity on the part of many adults who find out that an RCMP 
officer and a German shepherd routinely patrol the halls of GFSS, Kemprud 
claims it is nothing new.

"We have used drug dogs as long as I've been in education," Kemprud 
says.  "That's 30 years."

"Absolute bunk," replies Mollard.  "I was a student 20 years ago and I 
never heard of it until recently."

In terms of the legality of the searches the school district has got that 
covered.  Even the lockers of students don't belong to them nor are they 
used even in a rental-type arrangement so the infringement of privacy is 
not an issue.

"Students ar told that the lockers are the property of the school 
district," GFSS principal Doug Brydon says.  "But usually we keep the 
lockers private."

Whenever Cst. Terry Carter and canine companion Bela from the Nelson RCMP 
Dog unit are in the area, Brydon says they invite him in.  On Oct. 9 they 
cruised the halls and Bela found something interesting in a locker.  One 
student was found to have some marijuana seeds and was immediately put on 
indefinite suspension as per school policy.  It was then up to Supt. 
Kemprud whether or not the student will be expelled. The student in 
question has since returned from suspension.

Despite the fact that the incident happened in the school, which is 
designated a "drug-free zone," Cst. Paul Voisine said that no charges were 
laid.  Last year a GFSS student was caught with a minimal amount of 
marijuana in a brownie and faced a conditional sentence and six months 
probation in addition to the school's punishment and parental 
discipline.  This disturbs Mollard greatly.

"Where a student does receive criminal charges and  is convicted it can 
affect their life in a negative way for what might be youthful 
experimentation and errors that are made," Mollard said.  "This is 
absolutely asinine.  The RCMP has to realize that they are part of the 
problem, not part of the solution.  The war on drugs is an abysmal failure."

Kemprud says that the dogs come into the schools once every month or two 
depending on the availability of the drug dog unit.  The procedure is kept 
random and they don't talk about it.

"There are too many ears and too many scanners," he says.  "You have to 
appreciate the public welfare of the students is paramount and it's public 
property.  But it's public property that we have to make sure we look after."

Mollard says he is not an apologist for drug use but rather his point is 
that marijuana specifically is virtually decriminalized so should be 
treated as such.

Kemprud isn't interested in that argument and says in that way it is the 
same as a legal drug in the school:alcohol.

"Until such time as it is decriminalized we will keep our schools clean," 
he says, "and even after that we will keep our schools clean, simply 
because of the fact that you can't ask a teacher or an administrator to be 
running a school with somebody that's stoned."
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