Police Dogs on Campus

The Pleasanton school board will voted unanimously at its Tuesday, Jan. 24 meeting to allow the Pleasanton police department to take dogs on high school campuses to sniff for drugs in parking lots and locker rooms.

Police dogs will not be allowed on campus until an official policy is drafted, which could take several weeks.

The idea to invite drug-sniffing dogs to campuses was proposed by Foothill Principal John Dwyer and Foothill's school resource police officer, Ryan Dawson. The issue has been discussed at several Foothill parent meetings and at two school board meetings.

There will be no cost for the school district to have drug-sniffing dogs visit campuses. It's a service offered by the police department, which already has dogs trained to detect a variety of drugs.

The plan, which Dwyer calls the "Canine Protection Plan," allows for dogs to sniff only cars and P.E. lockers. Dogs would not sniff students or backpacks in classrooms.

"Students who bring drugs on campus often keep (the drugs) in cars," Vice Principal Lori Vella told parents at the Jan. 20 Friday Forum meeting. Drugs have also been found in P.E. lockers.

"The knowledge of the student body that we could search cars at any time, we believe would be a huge deterrent," Vella said.

Vehicles in all parking lots, not just student lots, and P.E. lockers will be searched when no students are present.

California's education code states that if a student is in possession of any illegal substances, that student is the presumed owner of those substances, Vella noted.

Any student caught with illegal substances on campus is entitled to the full due process afforded by law.

The Livermore school district has used drug-sniffing dogs for years without any problems. Courts have repeatedly ruled that canine drug searches are legal on school campuses because they are public places.

Click here for a Pleasanton Weekly article about the proposed plan.