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Talk of Drug Dogs at Portsmouth High School

Ava Gagne, PaperClip Writer

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Recently brought to the attention of Portsmouth parents and high school students is the potential use of drug dogs. The idea was introduced to the school board by a grandmother of two Portsmouth students, Laurie Douglas, who wants to see a drug- free environment for her grandchildren. The idea was discussed at Tuesday’s (9/26) school board meeting and the overall opinion was to gather more information about the success of police k-9 units. There is no solid plan, however Asst. Mayor Nancy Clayburgh will be preparing a presentation to share at an upcoming school board meeting in the coming weeks.

Although the searches are considered by many to be invasive, they are not violating any laws. Many argue that that this violates the fourth amendment, that outlaws unreasonable search and seizure. However, schools are permitted to use drug dogs to detect substances unannounced and perform random searches. Courts also acknowledge a school’s need for a drug- free environment and students should have no reasonable expectation of privacy at school.

It may be lawful, but the effectiveness and cost must also be taken into consideration. Several studies indicate that drug dogs can be prone to false alerts, which may lead to unjustified searches, that may, in turn upset parents and cause humiliation to students. These searches can also be very costly to school districts. According to online source, ACLU of Washington, maintaining a team of drug dogs can cost in between $12,000- $36,000 per year.

The searches would most likely be paired with positive demonstrations of the k-9 unit. The dogs would also be brought in with a broader message of drug education and awareness.

The idea had been considered over a decade ago, however was not as favorable as it was before the opioid tragedies became a crisis, Clayburgh added. There has been no further updates on the drug dogs and the issue is still under consideration of the school board. An attempt was made to contact school resource officer, however he was unavailable for comment.

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Talk of Drug Dogs at Portsmouth High School