Drug dogs need not apply

The Chico Unified School District’s consideration of hiring a private company to conduct dog-sniffing drug searches in its junior highs and high schools (see Newslines, page 8) should be swatted with a rolled-up newspaper. It’s a bad idea.

Battles like the war on drugs are fought against perceived threats born of media-generated fears and do little more than erode our already dwindling rights and freedoms. And in this case the ends do not justify the means. Using a student survey, whose accuracy is likely skewed by adolescent bravado, to establish that there is “reasonable suspicion” to justify the invasive searches is legally and morally feeble.

What kind of message do we send our children when we allow their properties, if not their very bodies, to be randomly searched by dogs under the direction of a private, for-profit company? This is hardly the way to establish trust in authority, the very concept of which is already suspect among most teens.

And how do these blanket searches of presumably innocent children square with the American history lessons we teach; lessons that are proudly steeped in the ideas of personal rights and freedoms?

Give us liberty or give us a drug-sniffing dog search.

If there is a drug problem, and there may well be, this is not the reasonable approach to solving it. It is not the school’s responsibility to monitor drug use; that is up to parents or guardians. The school is charged with providing a safe learning environment. Allowing random, blanket searches by dogs trained to sniff out drugs, both prescription and recreational, is hardly conducive to a young person’s sense of safety at school.

Perhaps a little trust is in order.