Little Found During Daily Drug Dog Searches In Escambia Schools
February 17, 2011
Each day, at least one middle or high school in the county is randomly visited by a canine officer and his dog. The North Escambia schools — Ernest Ward, Northview, Ransom and Tate — have each had 13 to 17 random searches since the first day of school. The only findings at the North Escambia schools has been at Tate High School, with marijuana residue found in two different vehicles on campus.
Of 228 searches, there have been 17 searches with drug related finds.
“I’m amazed that some schools have a much higher hit rate than one might expect — while others that many might expect to yield big finds — have so far not had any significant findings,” Escambia County School Board Member Jeff Bergosh said on his blog where he posted the latest numbers. “I’m told the searches and the random nature in which they are being deployed is proving to be an effective deterrent to students bringing drugs to our schools. Less drugs at schools equals safer schools.”
Of the 19 schools searched, 10 have had positive searches. At Washington High, the K-9 has alerted on over half — six of eleven — visits, including finds of two grams of marijuana in a men’s bathroom, an empty baggie that smelled of marijuana and a find of a trace amount of marijuana.
The Escambia County School Board implemented the random drug dog searches this school year, as part of an aggressive anti-drug and alcohol policy. Only one person at the district office, Manager of Protection Services Steven Sharp, knows which school will be visited in advance. The canine officer reports to the principal’s office upon his or her arrival and is accompanied during the search by an administrator or their designee.
Students are not being searched, and they are removed from any classroom that is searched. Searches also include hallways, lockers, parking lots and other common areas.
The district is spending $36,000 from its general fund over the course of a year for the program. Two dozen off-duty canine officers from the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office and the Pensacola Police Department are utilized for the searches.
The school district will hold a public hearing at 5:30 tonight to consider a proposed random student drug testing program. Click here for more information.
Pictured: Escambia County Sheriff’s Office Master Deputy Wayne Gulsby performs a drug dog search at Northview High School. NorthEscambia.com file photos, click to enlarge.