Dog days of eroded liberty - East Valley Tribune: News

Dog days of eroded liberty

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Posted: Wednesday, May 18, 2005 6:06 am | Updated: 9:54 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

A retired Navy officer was on the phone. So was a former Scottsdale high school counselor, parents of high school students and others.

They wanted to tell me they’re convinced the Scottsdale Unified School District governing board made a responsible decision to allow drug-sniffing dogs to roam Scottsdale high schools.

The board voted to let slip the dogs of dope on May 10. The board members based their decision on a high-profile publicity stunt by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Of course Arpaio didn’t call it a publicity stunt. He called it an investigation into a high school heroin ring.

The bottom line is he identified three "investigative leads" who were Scottsdale high school students who he believed used heroin. Just to put that figure into context, Scottsdale’s five high schools have a combined enrollment of 8,300 students.

Several readers disagreed with my Friday column, which argued that such an obvious lack of probable cause failed to justify trampling the civil liberties of the remaining 8,297 students.

Queen Creek resident Chris Kinney, a retired Navy commander, countered that drugsniffing dogs were one of the main weapons against drugs in the military.

"They worked extremely effectively in finding the drugs that were in servicemen’s rooms and the barracks. And the next thing was they worked as a deterrent because the servicemen knew that if they went ahead and did this kind of stuff, it was going to create a problem for them," he said.

"If we can do anything to prevent the use of drugs in our schools and keep them out of schools, that trumps any Constitutional rights that you’re talking about."

No doubt drug dogs are effective, commander, but why should we even bother with a military to protect our rights if we willingly surrender them to the likes of Arpaio?

A quick aside here: The drug-sniffing dogs are being supplied by the Scottsdale Police Department. That’s the same outfit that refused to arrest off-duty officer Gareth Braxton-Johnson, who drove drunk to a police station in December. Hey, Police Chief Alan Rodbell, got any boozesniffing dogs?

But I digress . . .

A former Scottsdale school counselor didn’t leave her name.

"We need to do everything, everything we can for precaution against this. And dogs — if it’s dogs, then it’s dogs. That’s what we need to do. Maybe we need to search students before they come in. Then go to the parking lot," she said.

Chief, got any cops to do cavity searches on kids?

Another woman said, "As far as Arpaio, he is flamboyant. I agree with that, but sometimes, you know, that’s how you have to do things to get people to listen or to think."

We can only hope.

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