Searches using drug detection dogs not likely to happen in schools again

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By Mallory Bilger

Spencer County Schools cannot lean on drug detection dogs to deter drug activity within the local schools anymore.
Historically the board of education and Spencer County High School officials worked in conjunction with Taylorsville Police and the Kentucky State Police to host drug detection dogs at least once a year, but Superintendent Chuck Adams said when he recently attempted to request a K-9 walk through at the high school, state police ultimately declined.
“It used to be done with a phone call,” Adams said. He said he requested the visit because some parents and board of education members requested that the drug detection dogs do a walk through at the high school this year.
Adams said unannounced drug detection dog visits were previously utilized as a deterrent, but those days appear to be no more.
“We usually have had one annually in the past,” Adams said of the searches, noting they were more about public perception than anything else.
KSP Public Information Officer Kendra Wilson spoke with the state police legal department and said several U.S. Supreme Court rulings handed down in 2013 have led to the agency tightening up its policies in regard to drug detection dogs.
Wilson said students also have some privacy rights when it comes to their lockers.
“They have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their lockers,” she said.
Adams said there was no specific incident or report that sparked the desire for the drug detection dogs to visit the school this year.
“It’s reassurance,” Adams said. “The people that have been caught in the past have been few and far between.”
Wilson said the schools can still request that Taylorsville Police and KPS work together to conduct searches of bags outside of the school as children enter the building for the day.
“We can still conduct searches and work with local law enforcement like we did last year in that every person that comes into the building can be checked for things like guns, knives, hand grenades, anything against school policy on school grounds,” she said.
Adams said he has not received any direct communication from state police on the matter. He said the school’s resource officer, Damon Jewell, is advocating for assistance from state police.
“I think what we are obviously asking for is a process to deter that kind of activity, however, according to the phone calls, and even the letter I attached to the (board of education), I have yet to hear anything relating to guidance on what they would be willing to do,” Adams wrote in an email.