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School Board to Vote on Drug-Sniffing Dogs Next Week

Drug-related suspensions have more than doubled in the past two years

Drug suspensions have more than doubled in recent years at Petaluma’s largest school district, the result of more students bringing marijuana onto campus. Now Petaluma City Schools wants to try a new approach: bringing drug-sniffing dogs to all of its high schools as a way of sending a strong message that drugs have no place at school.

The specially-trained dogs would be stationed in the parking lot or hallways and would only come to each campus once or twice per semester, according to Dave Rose, director of student services for PCS.

“We want the students to know what the dogs’ capabilities are and if it helps deter even one student from bringing drugs on campus, that’s the preventive measure we’re looking at,” Rose said. 

Last school year, 127 students were suspended for having or using drugs while at school, compared to 54 the previous year.

Rose blames the increase on the loss of school resource officers.

"Having a uniformed officer and a police car on school grounds was a major deterrent and we've lost that," Rose said.

Previously, , and had one resource officer each and they also helped cover a middle school. But the positions were eliminated beginning in 2009 due to budget cuts at the Petaluma Police Department.

Compounding the problem is that high-grade marijuana is easily accessible to students, whether on the street or through local medical marijuana dispensaries.

"It doesn't take much for an 18-year-old student to get a card and buy some at a local pot club and then turn around and sell it to his friends," Rose said.

The school board is set to vote on the decision on Tuesday, March 13.

What do you think? Should drug-sniffing dogs be used at local high schools? Will they be effective in preventing students from bringing marijuana onto campus? Take our poll.

Nancy Drelich March 05, 2012 at 09:41 PM
Obviously, we are not a police state...the 2009 budget cuts stopped that one.
Chad M. March 05, 2012 at 10:13 PM
I would support it on a trial basis. There needs to be a deterrent.
David Smith March 06, 2012 at 06:10 AM
Never liked cops never will, im sure they will come up with some bs saying the dogs help and to keep them they need grant....of course fucking loyal Americans like me.
Luisa Ward March 06, 2012 at 05:45 PM
Punishing our youth in a place where they are supposed to be nurtured and supported seems counter intuitive and could result in even bigger problems that compound risky behaviors: truancy, crime, and substance misuse. Why not appropriate funds and time into programs that grow community leaders instead of wasting money on police dogs and punitive tactics that are not addressing the root of the problem. Let's look at ways that will sustain our community in a more positive way and grow youth that will be responsible adults that contribute to such a community.

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