HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Legality Of Drug Dogs In Schools Questioned
Pubdate: Fri, 29 Nov 2002
Source: Port Perry Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2002 Port Perry Star Co. Ltd.
Author: Rik Davie, Weekend Star


It appears that Dylan and his friends will soon be kicked out of school -- 
and he is only six-years-old.

Dylan -- a Springer Spaniel -- is a drug detection dog for the Durham 
Regional Police Service (DRPS) and, according to officials at the Durham 
District School Board (DDSB), use of the dogs inside Durham schools could 
end after recent advice from lawyers.

Bev Freedman, Superintendent for Uxbridge area schools, told The Star that 
lawyers for the board have advised them that having drug detection dogs 
search hallways and locker doors for signs of illegal drugs may put the 
board in the position of "being agents of the police" in any subsequent 
drug trials.

Clint Cole, the Durham Regional Police officer assigned as School Community 
Liaison Officer for secondary schools in North Durham, told The Star that 
he was unaware of the details, but did confirm that police had been told 
they would not be taking canine unit drug detection dogs into Uxbridge 
Secondary School anytime soon.

"I do not know the details of this move," Constable Cole said. "I only know 
that we have, from time-to-time, brought the dog units in at the request of 
the schools to search for indications of the presence of drugs in public 
areas. It has been very successful."

According to Const. Cole, when an indication of the presence of drugs is 
made, officers note the location, but school officials then determine how 
to proceed.

Earlier this week, DRPS canine units, including Dylan and the service's 
newest member -- a two-year-old Malimoux named Justice Barker -- conducted 
a search of Port Perry High School. The dogs are so sensitive to drug 
presence that "indications" by the dogs turned up traces of drug presence 
and even prescription drugs in sealed bottles during Tuesday's (Nov. 26) 

As for the future of drug detection in North Durham schools, that may come 
at an additional cost to the public.

"Apparently," Ms. Freedman said, "if we use private contractors to do the 
drug detection, that would be alright."

There are a number of firms now doing drug searches with dogs for private 
industry and the field is growing.

Const. Cole said that the police role in schools continues to be proactive.

"I see us continuing to co-operate with the schools in any way we can to 
make our schools drug free," Const. Cole said. "We only enter schools at 
the request of the staff and we will work with them in any way we can. If 
this is a policy of the board now, I can't say what the effect will be, 
we'll have to wait and see."

Police are still investigating the "positive hits" at PPHS this week and 
are not commenting on the matter.

Don McLean, Superintendent for Education at the DDSB, told The Star that 
there is still no firm policy on the use of private contractors and when to 
use them will be a decision made by individual principals at individual 

The DRPS do not charge school boards for the use of drug detection dogs.

Director of Education Grant Yeo was away and could not be reached for comment.
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