Canine inspection yields violators at DHS

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 16, 2007

DEMOPOLIS &8212; During a routine canine inspection on Oct. 9, three Demopolis High School students&8217; vehicles were found to contain illegal items &8212; marijuana, alcohol and brass knuckles &8212; prompting disciplinary action from the school.

Originally, the students faced a 10-day suspension period and possible further disciplinary action, pending a decision from a forthcoming school board meeting. Espy said he reached a decision with Superintendent Wayne Vickers to allow two of the students to perform in-school suspension.

A letter was sent out a week to 10 days prior to Oct. 9 informing parents a search would be performed at the school in the near future, Espy said. Furthermore, the search found no illegal substances inside the school building.

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Espy explained anytime an illegal substance or weapon is found on school premises, there are two courses of action to take: the school&8217;s disciplinary action and the action from law enforcement.

The canine detections are performed as part of a contract with Interquest Detection Canine Inc. based out of Demopolis. Lee Jordan, who bought into the business and secured a contract with Demopolis City Schools last year, said they recommend doing the searches twice a month for &8220;maximum deterrent.&8221;

The dogs used by Interquest are non-aggressive, Jordan said, and they perform what are referred to as passive alerts. If the canine detects any kind of prescription drugs, illegal drugs, alcohol, tobacco or gunpowder, it will simply sit by the implicated area and look to its trainer to indicate an unauthorized substance has been found.

The canines are taken around random areas at both the middle and the high schools and also random rows in the schools&8217; parking lots. Any time a dog alerts the handler of any kind of substance, officials are authorized to search the area to find what the canine has detected.

In previous years, searches were performed by local law enforcement, which often required the school to shut down operations. Jordan said it is their aim not to disrupt the school day, which is why the non-aggressive dogs seem to work well.

&8220;We hope we don&8217;t find anything when we go,&8221; Jordan said. &8220;But sometimes we do.&8221;