Police in Schools

Cops Performed Intrusive Searches on Every Single Student in This High School. No Drugs Found.

"I've never been involved with anything like that ever in the past 21 years and I don't condone it."

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The local sheriff's office performed a pat-down search on every student—some 900 people—at Worth County High School in Georgia. They came back empty handed.

The search came just one month after the Sylvester Police Department performed a search of its own. That operation was insufficient, according to Sheriff Jeff Hobby.

The sheriff's search involved drug dogs. One dog directed authorities to a student vehicle, but no drugs were found inside it.

Parents weren't too happy, and District Superintendent Lawrence Walters doesn't blame them.

"I've never been involved with anything like that ever in the past 21 years and I don't condone it," Walters told WALB.

He stressed that no one asked for his permission to perform the searches.

Hobby said in an interview that he had probable cause, but didn't elaborate as to why he suspected drug activity was taking place inside the school.

Teenagers are compelled to attend school until they reach a certain age. They do not lose their constitutional rights when they step inside one, however. Ina addition to the nuisance—I imagine a search of every single student would be an incredible hassle, wasting much of the day—what message are we sending to our children? What are we teaching them about the rights of a free people?

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  1. “What are we teaching them about the rights of a free people?”

    The truth? That is, that rights are subordinate to the goal of a drug-free society.

    1. Rights are subordinate to the goal of a drug-free society? Rights are subordinate to any governmental goal. If the kiddies haven’t learned by the time they reach high school that there’s a very good reason schools are called “institutions”, the wardens and their shake-down searches ought to tip them off.

    2. They learned plenty. Government is the enemy. Cops are assholes. Robby, what could they have possibly learned in Geometry that was more important than what they all learned that day?

    3. They’ve already learned they are not free people because they are forced to spend time in the prisons we call school. If you truly want people who are free, you cannot imprison them for 12 or more of their formative years.

  2. What are we teaching them about the rights of a free people?

    That they would be nice to have.

    1. It gives the young people something to dream about.

  3. Something similar happened at the high school I attended (years after my time) a while ago. No pat downs, but students were told to leave their bags where they were while cops searched the school with dogs. No drugs were found.
    I don’t believe for a minute that there were no drugs anywhere that a dog could have detected. Which leaves me with the question, what the hell were they doing? It almost seems like they knew that any cases they made based on the search would fail because of the warrantless searches and they just wanted to scare the kids or normalize this kind of intrusive bullshit in their minds.

    1. normalize this kind of intrusive bullshit in their minds.

      This is my takeaway from it. I think this is why all schools have police officers stationed in them now. This didn’t happen when I was in school.

    2. This happened at my high school while I was still attending. I also recall that they would periodically walk drug dogs through the parking lot, although to my recollection nothing was ever found. At my rural school it was more likely to find ammo or a forgotten hunting rifle in a student vehicle than any kind of drugs, and I believe someone did get in trouble for that.

    3. It almost seems like … they just wanted to scare the kids or normalize this kind of intrusive bullshit in their minds.

      Almost? I’m pretty sure that’s exactly the point.

      1. I’m into understatement.

    4. Random locker checks were routine at my school. I would always stash some sort of contraband in my friends’ lockers whenever I saw a cop car pulling into the school. Great fun.

  4. In addition to giving students a free lesson in how law enforcement is NOT their friend, it should also serve to show parents why trusting schools to take care of their children is insane.

    Where the fuck was any administrator or teacher complaining at the time? Did anyone call the district office? Try to get a hold of the district’s legal counsel? And I don’t fucking care what the “handbook” says. A public school is an arm of government. Reasonable suspicion is enough to GET A WARRANT. To do a search in the absence of a warrant requires PROBABLE CAUSE!

    1. Yeah, I’m not sure how this flies without a warrant of any kind. In this case, it seems they didn’t even ask the permission of the school Superintendent so I’m wondering if this wasn’t a case of a rogue Principal inviting them in for some vague suspicion rather than probable cause.

      Judging by the reaction of the Superintendent, I’d say that someone might be getting their wrist slapped or fired on this one.

      1. Actually it looks more like CYA for the superintendent. From the article Robby references:

        Walters said in March Sheriff Jeff Hobby told him his department was going to do a drug search at the school after spring break.

        “We did not give permission but they didn’t as for permission, he just said, the sheriff, that he was going to do it after spring break,” said Walters.

        1. “We did not give permission but they didn’t as for permission, he just said, the sheriff, that he was going to do it after spring break,” said Walters.

          Then what Walters should have done was send a mass email to the entire student body, all faculty and staff, and parents informing of them of what was going to happen. Don’t ask the sheriff if you can notify the students ahead of time, just do it.

          Then, the day after the mass searches, I would hold an hour long or so assembly. The topic: the fourth amendment. At the end I’d close with “How do you square what we’ve just been discussing with what happened here yesterday? You can’t. The government is NOT your friend, kids.” *drops microphone, walks off stage*

          1. ^This^, even though it probably would have cost him his job. He should have at least let the district’s lawyers know about his convo with the sheriff.

            1. In addition, the Sheriff gave the district advance notice of the search. Which means, WHY THE FUCK DIDN’T HE HAVE TO GET A WARRANT?
              How the fuck does he have probable cause to do a warrantless search, when the search is planned well in advance?

              1. It’s a public building. I don’t know if he needs a warrant to do a general search.

                Could he search lockers? I don’t know about that one.

                Vehicle checks and pat downs? Definitely not.

                1. It’s a publicly owned building. But schools are not generally open to the public these days. I would have thought that the police would need specific permission (or a warrant) to enter just like anyone who isn’t a student or employee.

                  1. Actually, that is an interesting question. But as far as searching the grounds, or the classrooms, or even the lockers, I would not be nearly so concerned. Regardless of the stupidity of govt schools or the war on drugs, I don’t feel much sympathy to high school kids who get caught with pot or booze in their lockers. Of course, it shouldn’t ruin their lives either.

                2. IANAL, but I seem to recall that there’s case law/ precedent that the cops can come in and look around, but IIRC they need a warrant to search lockers and definitely should need a warrant to do pat downs.

                  I think, but don’t quote me on that.

      2. someone might be getting their wrist slapped or fired on this one.

        A wrist slap, maybe. Fired? I wouldn’t hold my breathe.

    2. Where the fuck was any administrator or teacher complaining at the time?

      Do you think administrators/teachers are that much different?

      1. No, most aren’t any different. It really was a rhetorical question just to point out how stupid parents can be (yes, myself included sometimes) in just assuming that schools are there to “take care” of the kids.

  5. what message are we sending to our children? What are we teaching them about the rights of a free people?

    They’re being taught what to expect for the rest of their lives.

  6. Maaaaan… FUCK THE POLICE!

  7. What are we teaching them about the rights of a free people?

    That their parents are terrible voters?

  8. I love the smell of lawsuits in the morning.

  9. Hobby said in an interview that he had probable cause, but didn’t elaborate as to why he suspected drug activity was taking place inside the school.

    “Because teenagers” would be my guess.

  10. No student refused the search (which would have resulted in being beaten down by cops).

    Are there no heroes anymore?

  11. “we” are teaching this:
    1. In order to fondle the good looking high school students, you have to fondle them all.
    2. “drugs” is a magic word that allows police, school administrators, and damn near everybody but you to ignore the constitution.
    3. The law is not there to protect you, it is there to intimidate you.
    4. Anything “the man” does is OK; everything you do is wrong.
    5. Read more about the sixties, it all began there.
    6. “gun free school zone” does not mean there are no guns, it just means none for you.
    7. When the time comes, vote. It won’t matter, but you will feel better.

  12. They had probable cause on every single student?

  13. What are we teaching them about the rights of a free people?

    That they have no rights and are not free people?

    1. And not because of searches but because they are forced to spend 12 or more of their formative years imprisoned.

  14. What?! A false positive from a drug dog? I’m SHOCKED!

  15. Your tax dollars hard at work.

    I’m guessing the Sylvester PD’s Drug War funding was on shaky ground and they needed to put on a show to ensure that they would get their $$$.

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