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Police Dogs Search School For Controlled Substances

The+K9+team+used+eight+German+Shepherds+during+the+search+of+BHS.+Photo+by+Gabriela+Covolan+Costa.
The K9 team used eight German Shepherds during the search of BHS. Photo by Gabriela Covolan Costa.

The K9 team used eight German Shepherds during the search of BHS. Photo by Gabriela Covolan Costa.

The K9 team used eight German Shepherds during the search of BHS. Photo by Gabriela Covolan Costa.

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Administrators announced a schoolwide shelter-in-place during third period on Tuesday, April 17. Students were asked to place their bags in the middle of the hallways so trained police dogs could check for illegal substances.

The search lasted roughly 15 minutes. The dogs also checked cars in the BHS parking lot. The search was performed by a regional K9 police unit primarily serving west side communities.

“Conducting dog searches is like running fire drills,” Asst. Principal Ryan Patti said. “The more the students, the community and the staff see that we’re trying to ensure the safety of the building and the students in it, that’s something that we’re going to try to do.”

The dogs are trained to search for controlled substances.

Patti said the school received one complaint from a parent concerned that the search distracted students from learning.

Junior Johnny Marks did not feel that the search was disruptive.

“As long as no one has any illegal substances with them, why would it be a problem?” he asked.

Junior Max Luxenberg questioned the effectiveness of the search.

“It’s a waste of time, in my opinion, because even if a student were to have anything, they could easily hide it,” he said.

As long as no one has any illegal substances with them, why would it be a problem?”

— Junior Johnny Marks

This is the first year that the regional K9 task force has offered Beachwood the opportunity to participate.

Some students were pulled out of class and escorted to their cars for checks.

Patti said the purpose of the search was to train the dogs as much as to check our school for contraband. Six other schools in the area also participated in the K9 searches, including Chardon and Solon.

Some students expressed concern about their cars being checked, and the fact that when their cars were checked, they were pulled out of class. One parent also questioned whether the school had legal authority to search cars in the parking lot.

“The reason to check cars was because it’s a frequent way to transport contraband,” said C.J. Piro, Beachwood police officer and Director of Security for Beachwood Schools.

Patti explained that when cars are parked on school property, they are subject to search. Also, when a trained dog signals that he or she detects contraband, police have probable cause to search.

Officer Piro explained that when a dog detects a drug or explosive, he or she will give a signal based on their training.

According to the website Crimewire, police dogs have a sense of smell over 10,000 times stronger than that of humans. Cadaver dogs can even smell a human buried 12 feet below the ground.

Patti explained that random checks will occur in the future.

The reason to check cars was because it’s a frequent way to transport contraband.”

— Officer C.J. Piro

The K9 team used eight German Shepherds during the search of BHS. The dogs ranged in ages from four to ten years old.

The dogs did not find any drugs in the April 17 search. If students were caught with drugs, Patti explained that the student-parent code of conduct would be enforced.

“It depends on if it’s your first offense, if you’ve already been to counseling, if you’ve had other incidents with other substances and if you have intent to sell based off what was found,” he said.

According to the student-parent handbook, the penalty would include at least a 10-day suspension as well as possible drug or alcohol probation.

 

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Police Dogs Search School For Controlled Substances