HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Drug Dogs In Schools
Pubdate: Tue, 23 Mar 2004
Source: Edmonton Sun (CN AB)
Copyright: 2004, Canoe Limited Partnership.
Author: Jerry Ward


Learning Minister Lyle Oberg is leaving the door open for more school 
boards in Alberta to use dogs trained to detect drugs in schools. He said 
while his department has no authority to enforce a provincewide policy, he 
would have no problems if boards adopted such a process.

"It can go ahead," Oberg said yesterday during question period in the 

He said he and Solicitor General Heather Forsyth will take a look at 
funding drug-sniffing dog initiatives.

"This is one element we can act on," said Oberg.

Already the Greater St. Albert Catholic school division, the St. Albert 
Protestant Separate School board, and the local RCMP detachment have a 
five-year-old protocol in place.

"We have had some expulsions," said Barry Wowk, a deputy superintendent 
with the Protestant board.

He said the drug-sniffing dogs show up in schools unannounced, and if drugs 
are found the police seize them. The students are handed over to the 
principals for disciplinary action, but no criminal charges are laid, he said.

Joan Trettler, chairman of the Protestant trustees, said the program in the 
Edmonton suburb has worked well because it was an idea that began at the 

"There's a will to do it," she said. "There's a commitment to the process."

She said the frequency of the random checks depends on the availability of 
the cop canines.

"I would like to see them through on a monthly basis," she said, noting 
students would then note the seriousness of the situation.

However, she said "at least three times" the dogs have conducted searches 
during the current school year, which began last September.

Last week, drug-sniffing dogs began searching provincial jails as part of 
an expanded drug detection program.

The government has entered into a $100,000 agreement with the Mounties to 
use the dogs to search jails across the province on a random basis.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart