Educators brush up on police methods to detect drugs in school


WESTMINSTER -- Some Carroll educators got an education of their own as state police guided them through drug detection, identification and frisking procedures aimed at eliminating drugs in local schools.

"This was sort of an reaffirmation that I had been following the correct procedure, and [it] has provided an update on new things I may need to watch for," said Walt Dyky, assistant principal of the Carroll County Career and Technology Center, who attended the seminar at the Westminster Elks Lodge last week.

"A lot of this was to build better communication lines with the law enforcement agencies to find out what types of things we should be telling them," said Sherri Bream, Westminster High School's principal.

About 50 school administrators, police officers, and education officials, including schools Superintendent Edward Shilling, attended the seminar sponsored by the Maryland State Police Drug Task Force. The seminar was designed to help deal with student drug use.

Police officers demonstrated search and drug identification techniques, including the use of a K-9 team.

Trooper Jack Hinkle and his partner Shane, showed the group how dogs find illegal substances with at least 95 percent accuracy.

"The dogs are trained to detect heroine, cocaine, marijuana and hashish, and their sense of smell is nearly 40 times greater than [that of] humans," Trooper Hinkle told the audience.

"If there is something in a locker or car, the dog could find it," he said.

Drugs come in many shapes, sizes and colors and can be hidden in almost anything, Detective Sgt. Gary Aschenbach told the group, as he displayed drug paraphernalia and presented a slide show.

He also discussed inhalant use, which involves breathing a contained gas for a high, or "blackout" effect.

The sergeant noted that an inhalant recently caused the death of an Anne Arundel County girl who died of a heart attack after whiffing butane gas while she visited a friend.

"This is getting more popular because the products containing the gases are so easy for children to get," said the sergeant, adding that the gas that forces whipped cream from its can is often used by teens to get high. "It's like the kids that used to sniff airplane glue or White-Out. It was accessible."

Cpl. Frank Konzal, who works with Sergeant Aschenbach in the Bureau of Drug Enforcement

Training and Education Unit, told the school officials how to search students if they have reasonable cause to believe that a student possesses illegal drugs.

"Only a principal, assistant principal or a school security guard can search a student," Corporal Konzal said. "The person frisking the student should be of the same sex, and a third party of the same sex should be present as well."

While there have been few reported incidents of drug use in Carroll schools, Sgt. John Burton, the task force supervisor, said the administrators needed the seminar information so they can try to deter drug use.

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