Zero Tolerance

No Warrant, No Problem: Students' Lockers Searched at Random By Drug Dogs

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Dog
mlive.com

Students at various public schools in West Michigan are subjected to random searches performed by a specialty canine unit that uncovers dangerous contraband in kids' lockers. Really scary stuff, like hunting gear, pocketknives, fire crackers, prescription medication. Maybe a gun-shaped Pop-Tart or two.

According to mlive.com:

The dogs, which are trained to find drugs, alcohol, gun powder-based products, tobacco and medications, also are used locally in Grandville, Forest Hills, East Kentwood and Byron Center schools among 46 districts across the state. East Grand Rapids uses the city's public safety department to conduct regular searches on its high school campus.

Records obtained by MLive and the Grand Rapids Press under the Freedom of Information Act show the findings by dogs at area schools are relatively low compared to overall student population, but educators believe the more vigilant they are, the better for students.

The public records request showed the discovery of more than 86 prohibited substances or items at the area schools that have used Interquest since 2011. Alcohol, tobacco and marijuana or drug paraphernalia were the most common finds, but dogs also alerted to fireworks and a toy cap gun among other items banned from school property.

The searches are performed at random, meaning that no single student is ever the target. Administrators hold this up as good and fair—we are trampling your rights, but it's not personal!—but the ACLU is skeptical:

"It turns students into suspects in a place where we should be nurturing them and focusing on their learning," said Marc Allen, of the ACLU of Michigan. "There are ways to do a search that are more narrow and don't implicate people's privacy rights."

I can think of no better way to prepare children to accept the police state with open arms than to begin subjecting them to completely undeserved searches in their formative years. These searches teach them that they have no privacy—there is no place the authorities can't touch. They have no right to question or resist. They need not have done anything wrong. Dubious safety concerns—seize the fishing knives!—will always trump common sense.

It's true that some students bring prohibited substances onto school property. Of course, so do the dogs' handlers:

On this day, "Murphy" is led by Kim Heys, who owns the Michigan Interquest franchise. The 5-year-old canine rolled through the halls with his nose to the ground until he picked up a suspicious scent inside a locker and sat down next to it. Heys rewarded him with a toy and a school security officer opened the door.

Heys pulled out a small container labeled "pseudo heroin" and sealed it in a plastic bag. The imitation narcotic was one of several substances she and the other handlers had planted prior to the search to be sure the canines are performing.

Safety first, kids.

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  1. “It turns students into suspects in a place where we should be nurturing them and focusing on their learning,” said Marc Allen, of the ACLU of Michigan.

    New Soviet Man isn’t going to create himself, comrades.

  2. It turns students into suspects in a place where we should be nurturing them and focusing on their learning…

    There’s always someone who wants to put mission creep on the teacher jobs program.

  3. This isn’t terribly new even.

    Maybe 10 years ago something similar happened at the high school I went to (this is years after I graduated). All of the students were told to leave their bags and go out and stand in the football field while cops with dogs went around the school.
    Quite incredibly, they didn’t find any contraband or arrest anyone. I can’t imagine that there wasn’t anything to be found. I don’t know if they knew that it might not be a legal search, or if they were just trying to scare people or get them used to compliance with such things. It was very strange.
    A couple of people I work with who had kids in school at the time tried to sue with the help of the ACLU, but didn’t get anywhere.

    1. Canadian experience here, but this was a regular occurrence at my high school in the early 2000s. We’d usually find out about fifteen minutes before they were coming. Cue dozens of people going to the washroom to flush their stuff.

  4. “It turns students into suspects in a place where we should be … focusing on their learning.”

    Oh but they are focused on teaching them something, Mr. Allen of the Michigan ACLU, they most certainly are.

  5. YA reason to rub everything with essence of female dog.

    1. Or, just bring in some gunpowder periodically and sprinkle it randomly around.

  6. Wisenheimer kids dusting their lockers with powdered cayenne pepper in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, ??..

    And WHEN it happens I’m sure The Authorities will get all butthurt about it.

  7. And in another news item, 43 students were arrested for felony attack on LEO using toxic peppers. They are being held without bond.

  8. At the risk of sounding like Tulpa, I’m not really outraged by this. The lockers do not belong to the kids. They are given a place to store their shit that belongs to someone else. And it’s not like this is something new. Principals have been tossing lockers since Hector was a pup. Don’t like it, but I can see their point.

    1. Is the presence on sight compulsory? Most of the time it is. The students are Forced to be there, they’re given a place to put stuff, that place is subject to broadcast monitoring. On top of which, the “service” provided is mostly “learn to do what you’re told and conform”.

      It all stinks.

    2. Tripe and nonsense. School personnel have no business searching anything student-related without reasonable or individualized suspicion and cops must get a warrant.

      I question the strength of your Libertarianism.

      1. I question the strength of your Libertarianism.

        Yeah…good one.

    3. In our town (southeastern Montana, population 8500) the search extends to cars in the student parking lot. If the dog is actually able to trigger on “gun powder residue”, during hunting season in Montana, it is essentially blanket permission to search every vehicle.

      1. You just live on the wrong side of the state. 😉

        Miles city?

        1. Ha! Yes, because the western cities are all libertarian paradises. Yes, its Miles City – CCDHS.

          1. Another Montana commenter. That’s like four or five of us. Soon we’ll be giving the CA boys a run for their money.

  9. I can think of no better way to prepare children to accept the police state with open arms than to begin subjecting them to completely undeserved searches in their formative years. These searches teach them that they have no privacy?there is no place the authorities can’t touch. They have no right to question or resist. They need not have done anything wrong. Dubious safety concerns?seize the fishing knives!?will always trump common sense.

    Don’t kid yourself. This is the mission of the government school monopoly, in the 21st century, and the single most important lesson taught.

  10. I’m not really outraged by this. The lockers do not belong to the kids.

    Those fuckers steal my money to do this. I do not consent.

    I am outraged.

    1. The lockers do not belong to the kids.

      Aside from various technicalities, just because its legal to do something doesn’t mean its right to do that thing or that you should do that thing.

      1. just because its legal to do something doesn’t mean its right to do that thing or that you should do that thing.

        Yes, and that’s why I said I don’t like it.

        Similar scenario. Your best friend is staying at your house and you think there is a good chance he has stolen goods in his bag. Can you tell him staying at your house is conditional upon him letting you search his bag? I know it gets cloudy because the gubmint owns the school…

        And once again, private schools would eliminate the entire controversy.

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  13. But Dunphy said cops don’t do random searches in schools!

  14. The free-air searches are conducted outside the lockers; are we going to pretend that the air around a locker is somehow subject to a level of privacy that necessitates a warrant? Ans these lockers are school property anyways, so the principal should be able to consent to a search of them.

    I’m pretty libertarian in most things, but this doesn’t particularly bother me. We can’t expect teachers to do this, so it makes sense to have the cops do it.

    1. Why do the lockers need to be searched, exactly, Tulpa?

  15. How is this just now an article on Reason? My school in Ohio was regularly ransacked by drug warriors, which I remember happening when I was in kindergarten.

  16. How does a dog detect a pocketknife?

    1. Well, if the dog signals and there is no pocketknife, it’s because there is a trace remaining of a pocketknife that used to be there; the dogs noses (and cognitive abilities) are just that finely tuned.

      1. Malarkey! (unless sarcasm was your aim)
        I predict it won’t be too long before sniffing dogs will not be allowed to provide “evidence”.
        Aside from the inability of the accused to “face” one’s accuser, dogs have been shown to “alert” upon subtle signals from their handlers and you can’t ask them any questions about how they developed their suspicion.

  17. Someday, once a non-democrat is president, you will hear an uproar about such things because then it will be the administration fault for allowing such abuse of power.

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