By Brian Freiberger
In early May, Vicksburg High School continued its program of vigilance and deterrence against drugs in its schools by using drug sniffing dogs to screen the High School and to use them to educate high school and middle school students about the role of these law-enforcement tools.
Trooper Jermaine Miller commented on the effectiveness of the search. ” Canines are a tool to use. They make the students aware they shouldn’t’ bring it (the substances) to school.”
The screening was performed by Trooper Miller alongside his dog, Dakota, Trooper Mike Sinke with his dog, Murph, and Trooper Joel Service with his assistant, Pitch.
The need for this service is determined by the school in collaboration with local police departments and is meant to be part of a larger effort of deterrence and education, according to Trooper Miller. “A majority of the time we don’t usually find narcotics,“ he said.
During the day, the troopers also visited Vicksburg Middle School to introduce the dogs to the student body and show the students that the dogs are tools used to protect them by deterring drugs in a school so the problems can be addressed. The high school sent out a letter to all students and parents before the dogs made a visit to let them know what was happening and why. Part of the letter read in part, “The goal of using such dogs is to provide a deterrent to possession of abused substances at school or on school grounds. This proactive measure has shown success in school districts throughout the state and the nation. These dogs can detect illicit drugs, alcohol and gunpowder.
Keevin O’Neill, VHS principal, sees the use of the dogs as one of many avenues to deter drug use. “We use classroom education, speakers at school and other methods to promote the message that drugs are harmful and we will work to deter them. The dogs are here to let them know we are serious about deterrence and education at the same time. If and when drugs are found, we use it as an opportunity to address a problem with a student. It is far better to work with students when they are young and show them the negative consequences of drug use than to wait for society to do it later, when it is perhaps a larger and more damaging issue for a young person.”
Part of the letter released to parents and students before the visit states, “The prevention of illegal drug and alcohol use is a very complex issue and no one action on its own will solve it. We are doing our part by combining education with enforcement and accountability for students.”