Police conduct drug sweep of NHS

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Naugatuck police officer Kevin Zainc, right, demonstrates the ability of K-9 Pete to find drugs planted in the pocket of Dean of Students John Dellacamera, center, flanked by Board of Education member James Scully, left, and Mayor Robert Mezzo during the Board of Education’s meeting Dec. 12. The school board teamed up with police to enforce a policy which allows for random drug searches at Naugatuck High School. The first search since the December meeting was performed Thursday. No drugs were found. –FILE PHOTO

NAUGATUCK — A month after school officials announced a plan to enforce random drug searches at Naugatuck High School police performed their first sweep of the school.

Shortly after 10 a.m. Thursday, specially trained narcotic detecting K-9s from Naugatuck and eight other area police agencies conducted a drug sweep of lockers and parked cars at the high school.

Eleven K-9s and handlers in all performed the search. The search lasted for about a half an hour and no drugs were found, according to a release issued by the Naugatuck Police Department.

Naugatuck High School Principal Jan Saam said the sweep went “beautifully.”

“It went without a hiccup,” Saam said. “It was actually better than I envisioned.”

In December, Saam and borough police officers went before the Board of Education to inform them of their plan to begin performing the random searches, which are allowed under an existing, but underutilized policy.

During the search, the school was placed under a “Code Yellow-Protect in Place” lockdown, which meant students and staff had to remain in their classrooms.

Saam explained the lockdown was to ensure the dogs didn’t come in contact with students or staff. She said when the lockdown was issued students were informed that the search was the reason for the lockdown and a CodeEd alert was issued to parents as well.

The internal sweep of the school took about 15 minutes, Saam said, and then officers moved to the parking lot. In all, she said, the entire search was completed within one class period.

“It was very routine. It did not disrupt the school day one bit,” Saam said.

Saam said she was very grateful to the Naugatuck Police Department and other departments who provided their dogs to conduct the search.

“It was a beautiful example of the police departments’ cooperation and doing things in the interest of student safety,” she said.

Saam was obviously pleased that no drugs were found during the search. But, she said, her intent was never to catch students or imply that the school has more drug issues than any other high school. Rather, she said, her goal is to send a clear message to students that drugs at the school will not be tolerated.

With the first sweep in the books, Saam said, students can expect more searches in the future and she hopes multiple sweeps can be done before the end of the school year.

“I don’t want students to think once it’s done they’re in the clear,” Saam said. “I want the message out there that it can happen at any point in time.”