HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Dogs To Sniff School Lockers
Pubdate: Fri, 12 Mar 2004
Source: Prince Rupert Daily News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2004 Sterling Newspapers Ltd.
Author: James Vassallo
Bookmark: (Youth)


A local high school is currently investigating using police dogs to
hunt for drugs in students' lockers.

The Parent Advisory Council in conjunction with RCMP school liaison
officers and school administration, have distributed surveys to gauge
public opinion on drug searches at Charles Hays Secondary School.

"There's been an increase with drugs right now," said Skip Cronck,
CHSS principal. "It's an in your face' attitude. I don't know if the
kids are seeing this as some sort of competition to see what they can
get away with ... there are more youngsters coming in high."

The police dog would enter the school, and sniff students' lockers for
drugs, generally marijuana.

"We've told the kids the lockers are not theirs', they're school
property," he said. "If we need to go in the lockers we need to go

"I tell the students, 'don't be stupid' if you come to school high ...
we have to follow school board policy."

Cronck said that staff go to the nearby corner store and on occasion
busts a few students. This was a particularly large problem at the
beginning of the year, but it has calmed down somewhat thanks in part
to the difference being made by RCMP liaison officers.

Brian Johnson, school district 52 chairperson, said the district has a
zero tolerance policy for both alcohol and drug use at school.

"I commend the Parent Advisory Council of Charles Hays for bringing
this issue to the forefront," he said. "The use of illegal drugs and
trafficking in our schools must stop."

"The presence of the RCMP at the last Hays dance really had an
impact," he said.

Johnson did indicate that he had some concerns and that legal
implications would have to be closely examined.

"How often will they come, what are the implications should a dog bite
a student?" he said. "I would like to sit down with the RCMP to figure
it out ."

When asked if he thought this would give kids a reason not to attend
school, Johnson said: "I'd rather the kids see this as a disincentive
to smoke pot and come to school with a clear mind so they can learn."

Most students at CHSS had few concerns with the idea.

"I don't really care about it. They shouldn't be bringing drugs into
school anyway," said Grade 12 student Courtney Girbav. "As long as the
dog has a chain and is trained properly, I'd be okay."

Grade 9 student Britney Olsen disagreed with having the dog in school.
"I agree [students] shouldn't have drugs, but it's their lockers," she
said. "Some people also share lockers, what happens then? Who gets in

She noted that many students know one another's locker combos,
allowing for the possibility of mischief.

Brandon Lewis, also in Grade 9, also offered some concerns. "It might
freak out kids and they may not come to school," he said of the police

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) has no official policy on
drug dogs in schools, however the organization calls 'suspicionless
searches' a grey area.

"If you get the technology, you're going to want to use it," said Kirk
Tousaw, BCCLA policy director. "They might as well just pat the
student down as they come through the door and go through their lockers."

Tousaw noted that when groups talk about kids and drugs at high school
they're generally talking about marijuana.

"You don't have a school disciplinary process, you have an arrest and
a criminal record ... for a relatively harmless crime," he said. "To
me the problem is that there's no suspicion of wrong doing, just a

"We don't want the state running willy-nilly."

There is also the concern of how students feel about having dogs in
the hallways.

"It's a search that's not based on any particular conception of guilt
. they're searching innocent and non-innocent alike," said Tousaw.

Courts in Canada have held that students have a reduced expectation of
privacy in schools.

There have been a variety of incidents involving police dogs,
including one in Rupert where a man was forced to go to a Vancouver
hospital for plastic surgery after being bit in the leg in 2002 by the
detachment's previous dog.

Top criminal lawyer Lawrence Greenspon was also retained when an
Ottawa student at a Catholic School was expelled for smelling like
pot, although no drugs were actually located on him. At the end of
Jan. a Vancouver Island Grade 2 student also suffered minor puncture
wounds to her abdomen after being nipped by a police dog from Port
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