March 9 2016
K9 Sweep of Lockers and Vehicles at BHS Yields No Illicit Drugs
By: Rich Hosford
A recent police K9 inspection of lockers and cars at Burlington High School found no illicit drugs.
The results of the sweep, which happened on February 11, were presented to the School Committee by Burlington Police Chief Michael Kent. He said that on that day 16 police canines, including both the Burlington Police Department’s Havoc along with units from area communities, went through the school hallways and parking lot. Each locker and vehicle was checked.
“I’m not naïve enough to think it’s like that every day but I think in this instance it was a good day for the school,” Kent said.
The sweep was done as part of a Code Blue drill, meaning the students were in lockdown in their classrooms. Code Blue drills are also done to ensure preparedness during a disaster or an attack, such as a gunman.
The way the K9 sweep works, Kent explained, is that the dogs are walked by each and every locker in the school. If a dog alerts its handler that something has been found a second unit will check the same area. If there are two positive alerts police will ask a school representative to open the locker. Kent said in about 90 percent of all cases when something is found it is a matter handled by the schools rather than police.
The entire thing took 26 minutes and Kent said the department thinks they can make the next one even faster and less intrusive.
There was some discussion about a notice that went out to parents alerting them there would be a K9 sweep in the school, though it didn’t say the exact date. School Committee Chair Christine Monaco said she had received a note from a parent stating they were upset that any kind of warning was given.
Kent acknowledged that and said that since this was the first time one of these types of sweeps was done he thought it was best to give parents a heads up, this time.
“It was a balancing act, we have people saying we shouldn’t have sent anything home but if we didn’t the other side would have said they should have been alerted,” he said. “I think next time we’ll keep it closer to the vest.”
He and other members of the board made it clear that a second locker and vehicle check could happen at any time without prior warning.