Drug dogs sweep Mt. Hope High School

MHHS

Drug-sniffing dogs from the Rhode Island State Police Canine Corps swept the interior of Mt. Hope High School this morning, checking lockers and the corridors while students were in class.

The sweep was conducted at 9:15 a.m., and parents and students were not notified before it took place. At no time did the dogs have contact with the students.

Citing an increase in disciplinary actions at the high school over the past three years, school administrators along with the Bristol Police Department and the Rhode Island State Police Canine Corps, conducted the sweep as part of the administration’s action plan to address the problem.

“It’s a deterrent,” said Melinda Thies, Superintendent of the Bristol Warren Regional School District. “It sends a very strong message to students that we’re watching over them and protecting them.”

In a press release posted to the school district’s website today, Ms. Thies said that there had been an increase in students being suspended at the high school “for being under the influence or in possession of controlled or illegal substances.”

This is the first time in the school’s history that drug dogs have been used as a preventative measure at Mt. Hope, Ms. Thies said.

The results of the sweep were not readily available. If the dogs did find anything, school administrators would follow the district’s disciplinary protocol, which can be found in the school’s handbook.

The entirety of the superintendent’s letter is below:

The Bristol Warren Regional School District’s first priority is the health and safety of its students. Without an optimum learning environment, students cannot access a quality education. Due to an increase over a three year period in the number of disciplinary incidents at Mt. Hope High School that involve students being suspended from school for being under the influence or in possession of controlled or illegal substances, the high school administrative team, the superintendent, and the Chief and Deputy Chief of the Bristol Police Department have been meeting on a regular basis to develop an action plan to identify intervention strategies to deter such incidents at Mt. Hope High School.

In partnership with the Bristol Police Department, the administrative team developed an action plan to conduct canine sweeps of MHHS in 2013-2014 to ensure that the school is a substance-free campus. Research for this action included data collection of disciplinary infractions, outreach by Principal Donald Rebello to his administrative colleagues in the state regarding the use and protocols for canine sweeps, and contact with the RI State Police Department by Bristol Police Chief Canario. Through this research, it was determined that the following districts conduct regular canine sweeps of their high school campuses utilizing the RI State Police Department: Chariho, Coventry, Narragansett, North Kingstown, Smithfield, Warwick and Westerly.

On Feb. 26, 2014 at approximately 9:15 am, the RI State Police Canine Corps conducted a canine sweep of the interior of the MHHS campus. Search dogs guided by certified State Police personnel and a MHHS administrator conducted sweeps of the corridors and lockers while students were retained in their classrooms. At no time did the RI State Police Canine Corps make physical contact with students.

Per the directive of the Bristol Police Department, the administration did not communicate the date or time of the canine sweep to students or their families. The Bristol Warren Regional School District abided by the Bristol Police Department directive, as well as the protocols of the RI State Police Department. In order maintain a substance-free campus; the Bristol Warren Regional School District will be conducting canine sweeps of the Mt. Hope High School campus periodically.

The canine sweep which occurred on Feb. 26 was one step in an action plan that entails therapeutic intervention, student support services, and pro-active positive lifestyle awareness.

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7 Comments

  1. Amy Micheletti said:

    Great job Bristol!!! This is a giant step in addressing the drug epidemic in our town!
    Help our youth now, BEFORE recreational use grows from pot use to pills and heroine. Thank you for including the therapeutic services piece, it can save our youth and help their families.
    Great Job to the Bristol Police Dept. And the School Dept! So proud of our town!!!!!

    • Bryan Palumbo said:

      Rich, it’s just one of the top rated high schools in the nation according to USAtoday… but again, someone with the moniker, “Rich *****” is someone whose word we should be taking.

  2. klynch26 said:

    As a member of the Bristol Warren Regional School Committee, I am in complete support us the Drug Dog sweep. As in every other high school in Rhode Island, drug use, especially marijuana is rampant among our students. It’s time we took a stand and said “not in our schools.” As for “Rich *****” I suggest you do a little research before slamming the current Mt. Hope High School. We are now rated among the top public high schools in Rhode Island. I’m not sure when you graduated, but we are a high performing school now and are continuing to improve every year which is proven with our increase in test scores and increased graduation rate.

  3. PitchingFanatic said:

    Amen Brother. I don’t mean to be rude to anyone who has commented or to anyone who will comment on this article but anyone who still thinks that pot is a “drug” never mind a “gateway drug” is living in the dark. Actually you’re not living at all! You’re letting the news, media, government and other misled, uneducated people dictate your opinions on an a PLANT which is not refined or tainted. Not saying those people are uneducated in totality, but on the subject of pot. People tend to form their own opinions based on the opinions of others and all that does is let people know that you can’t think for yourself. Now if you’ve tried pot and didn’t enjoy your experience, you’re entitled to your opinion but that’s all it is.. An opinion. Not a fact. And if something should deter someone from a “drug”, “plant” or even a food or beverage, it should be the facts, not an opinion. Facts are facts and here’s a fun one for you all. In the entirety of recorded history, there have been 0 (ZERO) 0 deaths that can be blamed on marijuana. There are actually more deaths from vending machines falling over onto people, but that doesn’t stop you from letting your children buy a soda. Never mind the preservatives in that soda or in all of the food we eat which is making us obese and unhealthy. But hey let’s blame that all on pot shall we? Anyone who’s open-minded enough to consider other peoples’ opinions and factual evidence towards pot should watch “The Union”, a documentary about marijuana, in which ex-state troopers, and other high profile officials speak the real truth about pot and how the rumors that mislead people to this day began.

    But back to earth.. Like what Kevin said, it’s all in the mentality of the person. I smoke pot at least 3-4 times a week, sometimes everyday if I *responsibly* choose to do so. I can also tell you with complete honesty that I have NEVER had the urge to experiment with any other drug nor have I ingested any other drug in any form whether it be through needles, smoking, etc unless it was prescribed to me by my physician (who also told me pot isn’t actually bad and that I should ingest it any way in which I please other than smoking because he cares about my lungs) Which I *respectfully* choose to ignore because there is also scientific evidence proving that smoking pot has little-to-no Negative effects on one’s lung capacity and breathing capabilities. It is actually a bronchial-dilator and can help those with asthma breathe better. We live in an age where we no longer find value in things placed on this earth for a reason but value these poisonous pharmaceuticals so highly. If it’s natural and untainted, I have no problem with it. So I guess that means pot and mushrooms. Now I refuse to touch mushrooms for two reasons and two reasons only. 1) I don’t like regular mushrooms and don’t think I’d enjoy eating one that sat in cow **** and 2) I don’t want a psychedelic experience. Like I just said, I wouldn’t try them but that would be the farthest I ever went.

    Another thing is this: people’s go-to response when on the subject of adolescents and “drugs”; “Kids today do these drugs because they’re uneducated and the drugs are readily available.” The second half of the statement is the only true part of it. Kids today ARE EXTREMELY educated on the effects of drugs yet continue to try them simply because they’re addicted or don’t care. I’m sick and tired of parents making excuses for their children saying that “oh my son’s friend smokes pot and now my son is shooting up in his room before dinner woe is me”. Your son isn’t shooting up because I’m enjoying a toke and a bag of doritos, your son is shooting up because he has own problems and insecurities. Maybe those problems stem from you, his parent(s). So instead of pointing the finger and blaming something or someone else, which we’re so famous for in America, take a more subjective view on life rather than an objective one and maybe, just maybe you’ll see the ignorance we’re surrounded by in day-to-day life. I normally read the Phoenix articles, start writing a comment and then delete because I feel like my opinion isn’t strong enough to send to others. But when I log on and see this article and see plenty of ignorance from 5 comments, that’s when I say something.

    On the original topic of this article, I am both ecstatic as well as angered by the drug search at the high school this week. As someone who is against the use of REAL drugs, I can appreciate what the Superintendent, Bristol PD and the RISP Canine Corps did because no student should be bringing that part of their personal life with them to school. I am completely against that. On the other hand though, I completely disagree with the fact that no one was given a warning before this search was conducted. I understand that if a warning is given, then kids will leave their drugs at home that particular day or week but it is still wrong to not give a fair warning when their privacy is being breached. I don’t care if it’s a “public” school, a warrant should be granted and then presented so that it shows anyone and everyone that there is a means to search the grounds.

    Seeing as how I’ve already written a novel, I’ll end my comments here and if anyone would like to debate, agree or anything, please feel more than free to reply back. I’m not an asshole, just someone who’s simply educated on the topics on which I spoke about.

    Thank you to whoever takes the time to read this, I hope your children are living a healthy life, however they choose to do so. I will be enjoying these delicious doritos awaiting the strong opinions that I can sense are coming my way.

  4. PitchingFanatic said:

    Actually one last comment.. Anyone who says Mt. Hope isn’t a good school is wrong. The education given there is great, it is the atmosphere and drama created by the students that make Mt. Hope unappealing. Also, Mt. Hope IS a high-performing school. And by that I mean a “HIGH”-performing school. Because a large amount of the students there smoke pot and a large amount of those students who do smoke pot, get good grades and are great at their extracurriculars. So yes, pot must be to blame for your children failing their classes. Certainly not you or your children themselves.. “Welcome to America; where it’s never my fault, it’s yours”.

  5. Transplant said:

    Students have no expectation of privacy at a public school with “Drug-Free School” signs everywhere. Hence why police don’t need a warrant to open a locker, which is what they were actually looking for.

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