East Grand Middle School narcotics search utilizes drug sniffing dog
January 31, 2017
On Tuesday, Jan. 31, officers and deputies from the Granby Police Department (GPD) and the Grand County Sheriff's Office (GCSO) conducted a narcotics search of the East Grand Middle School using a drug dog. Authorities searched the premises along with and at the request of the East Grand School District.
The request by school officials to conduct a K-9 search of school property follows a drug -elated incident, which involved several students from both the EGMS and Middle Park High School (MPHS), which occurred in mid-December. District officials announced their plans to periodically conduct unannounced sweeps of school facilities with the assistance of local police and drug-sniffing dogs in a statement issued by Superintendent Frank Reeves on Dec. 30.
The search Tuesday morning was administered by Sergeant Mike Reed of the GCSO and K-9 Ivan. Sergeant Reed has been Ivan's handler for 6 1/2 years and the pair spent roughly one-hour touring the hallways, locker rooms and open space areas of the EGMS as Ivan sniffed for drugs.
No drugs were discovered during the search though Ivan did "hit" twice. Further follow-up searches of the items Ivan "hit" upon revealed no narcotics. Middle School Principal Jenny Rothboeck walked with authorities as they conducted the search and commented on Ivan's "hits."
"It is not unusual or alarming for this to happen," Rothboeck stated. "This indicates that the items may have been in an area where the odor of narcotics was present."
Rothboeck went on to add she was "very pleased" no illegal substances were found at the school during the search. "The vast majority of our students follow the rules and make good decisions every day," Rothboeck stated.
Reed echoed her sentiments prior to the search, cautioning that just because Ivan "hit" on a specific object did not necessarily mean narcotics are present.
"Sometimes kids have a parent that uses," Reed said before explaining the odor of marijuana can remain on objects for a significant period of time, which Ivan will detect.
Prior to the start of the search process Sgt. Reed highlighted the case law pertaining to K-9 searches of public schools and discussed the procedures he and school administrators would be following as they conducted the search.
Reed explained the case of Horton v. Goose Creek Independent School District stipulates using a K-9 to sniff lockers, open spaces, cars, backpacks and other items contained within a school or on school grounds is legal, in part because the school is public property and expectations of privacy are inherently reduced. Reed pointed out that the same case law stipulates it is illegal to use dogs to sniff the bodies of students, "we do not search a human being with a K-9," Reed said.
Reed outlined the procedural steps he and school administrators would take in the event Ivan hit upon an object. "I hold the dumb end of the leash," Reed joked. "He tells me what is up. The dog creates the exigent circumstances."
According to Reed in circumstances when Ivan hits on an object the object is then searched by school officials. If school officials find any illicit substances they turn it over to authorities and appropriate actions are then taken.
Granby Police Chief Jim Kraker discussed the role of K-9s as being one tool among many in the fight against adolescent drug use and added the GPD and GCSO have plans to conduct a sweep of Middle Park High School sometime soon.