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Unannounced Drug Search Conducted

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The Skokie Police Department conducts drug sweep on the first floor.

The Skokie Police Department conducts drug sweep on the first floor.

Wyatt Zwik

Wyatt Zwik

The Skokie Police Department conducts drug sweep on the first floor.

By Divitya Vakil, News Editor

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The Skokie Police Department’s drug-sniffing K-9 conducted a search during second period this morning. No drugs were discovered. This search is a preventative measure and is one of the few that will occur during the school year.

This is the third year that Niles West has had drug searches. In previous years, such as Apr. 20, 2016, the search was announced to all students via email. Then, the intent was prevention as well. However, since then, the school has not disclosed the dates and times of such searches.

Assistant Principal of Operations Mark Rigby claims that unannounced drug searches do not violate students’ privacy in any way.

“We are not searching their backpacks or people, but lockers, cars, and anything on school property [can be searched because of] school district policy. Whatever is in the lockers [can be] searched without permission,” Rigby said. “There’s a reasonable expectation of privacy for backpacks and purses, things that are on your body, but if you’re going to keep it in your car it’s all in school policy that we’re allowed to search it. We don’t have your permission but we have to have a reason to [search lockers].”

Principal Jason Ness feels that these searches not only create a safe environment but also foster relations with the community.

“Our number one responsibility is that our school is safe and we’ll use every resource possible to make sure that no illegal substances are in our building or property,” Ness said. “Not only does it maintain as a deterrent for anyone who is even thinking about bringing anything to the building, it’s great training for the dog as well. It’s a great cooperation between the police department and the school.”

Some students agreed with the drug searches.

“There has been a lot of drama going around with drugs and vapes around school. It’s a decent step for administrators to take to try to prevent that,” junior Lucas Rochester said. “I think that having a dog in here once in a while isn’t a bad idea. If we had it on the daily or on the weekly then that would be overdoing it a little bit, but I think it’s a step in the right direction.”

However, the majority of students at West have locker partners, which could eliminate the privacy of one of the students when searching a locker, as junior Lexi Lee suggests.

“If you have a locker partner and they decide to search the locker, then it violates one of the partner’s right to privacy since they didn’t do anything wrong,” Lee said. “But I think if you’re doing the right thing then you’re not going to have any problems.”

The ultimate goal of these searches is to maintain the safest possible environment, which is why the school continues to have them.

“I think that it’s important that there’s nothing here that shouldn’t be here. If it deters anyone from even thinking about bringing anything they shouldn’t be then it’s a success,” Ness said. “We can’t control everything, but if we can use all the resources that are disposable and keep the building safe, well that’s our goal.”

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