Law enforcement drug prevention program sees sweep in high school

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Town of Vevay, Switzerland County, and other law enforcement agencies conducted a sweep at Switzerland County High School last Thursday afternoon as part of an ongoing effort to keep illegal drugs out of the schools.

At approximately 1 p.m. on Thursday, Vevay Police Chief James Richards brought together several agencies from the area to conduct a search and sweep of the high school. Specially trained dogs were taken down hallways and into some classrooms at the school; as well as a search of vehicles in the school parking lot.

“We pulled together the state, Madison Police Department – which was willing to give two of its canine officers,” Chief Richards said. “The sheriff’s department has given its canine; and Sheriff Leap also decided to come down and help.”

Chief Richards said that two of his Vevay town officers were also involved in the sweep.

“This is just part of the ongoing effort that we are doing to help battle the drugs in the community,” Switzerland County Sheriff Roy Leap said. “We know that we’ve had issues in the school with what we’ve gathered from the community; and we’re going to start here. We’re also working out in the county and in the towns.”

Chief Richards said that the dogs and officers were going to walk the hallways past all lockers, and the dogs would also be going into some classrooms before moving outside to the parking lots.

“We’re starting out here at the school, but this may lead out into the county and possibly into other jurisdictions,” Chief Richards said. “If we locate narcotics and the ball starts rolling in terms of who’s dealing what to whom. We’ll move our investigation out to those locations, and hopefully show down or put a stop to this drug issue we have here in Switzerland County.”

The officers are also aware of the need to educate students and adults about the dangers of the wide variety of drugs and synthetic drugs that are becoming available across the nation.

Switzerland County has an ordinance against the sale or possession of synthetic drugs.

“This is something new that has hit, and we’re learning from it, day by day,” Chief Richards said.

“We’ve done the county ordinance to cover the county until the state legislature can catch up current laws,” Sheriff Leap said. “With the current laws that are now going, there’s several bills, not only in the Senate but also in the House right now to battle the designer drugs, like Spice and all of that stuff.”

The dogs that were part of the sweep are trained to not only find illegal drugs; but can also detect the odor of illegal drugs on clothing from days or weeks earlier.

Both Chief Richards and Sheriff Leap said that it is important that the community see its role in curbing illegal drug traffic and use in the county, and pointed to the newly-established Drug and Crime Tip Line – 427-4427.

“Students, if they want to help us slow down and stop this, they can call that number and give us information of what’s going on and how it’s going on,” James Richards said. “The whens, wheres, and whys. If they give us that information, we can move forward.”

“We know there’s good students in the schools, and the majority of these students are good students in the high school and throughout the school system here in Switzerland County,” Roy Leap continued. “If they want to get involved and leave anonymous information on the hot line, we’ll get that and treat that just the same as any other call that comes in through the hotline. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a county call or a town call, that same number will get that information to either the Vevay Police Department or the Switzerland County Sheriff’s Department. When we screen the calls, if it’s a town call, we pass that information right on to Chief Richards.”

Although Thursday’s sweep was coordinated through local law enforcement, the school system also has programs in place to help identify students who may have drug use problems.

Several years ago the school corporation adopted a random drug testing policy for students involved in extra curricular activities. Under this program a computer randomly selects students for drug testing by an outside lab that comes to the school grounds.