Local News

Johnston Officials Take A Bite Out Of Crime

Posted February 17, 1999 6:00 a.m. EST

— Police dogs are normally seen sniffing around crime scenes. But Thursday, they were sniffing around hallways and lockers at Smithfield-Selma High School. Deputies are hoping the dogs can help snuff out drug use.

The dogs are part of a highly-visible campaign that county leaders say adds new teeth to their war on drugs. They are trained to find drugs.

"Students, you know, could have drugs or whatever on them. It's a really scaring feeling to know that drugs are in the school," said student Bonita Bryant.

The sheriff and school board say that the dogs will be a common sight in the public schools. Teachers are cheering the move.

"Some of them don't really understand the consequences of what drugs and different things can do to ruin their lives and their families and the community," said teacher Cindy Lynch.

One thing some students do not like is that the dogs actually go into the classroom and sniff personal belongings while they have to wait in the hall.

Amber Strickland, 17, does not use illegal drugs but considers that part of the search an invasion of privacy.

"I don't appreciate them being around our stuff without us there. I mean, if I have a bag lunch in there and then they find that and the dogs tear it up, my lunch is gone," said Strickland.

Strangely, during the search, the dogs did pick out Strickland's lunch bag, but it was a false alarm. There was only residue fromTylenolinside.

In fact, deputies were glad to find nothing in the school worth prosecuting. Student Kenny Barfield is not surprised.

"I don't see a big drug problem here at school. There never has been one that I know about anyway, but I guess it's better safe than sorry," said Barfield.

While the dogs are effective, they are not always perfect. The principal did make sure students knew that the lunch bag they found did not contain anything illegal.