Escambia School drug searches a bust

August 13, 2011

It sounded good at the time when Superintendent Malcolm Thomas and the Escambia County School Board funded routine drug searches at the schools using drug dogs. The final report shows that few drugs were found on campus and the number of “hits” didn’t decrease because the program. reports during 352 school searches, there were 28 alerts. Seven of the alerts resulting in findings of drugs; the remaining 21 alerts were for residue or odor. Prescription drugs were found twice during physical searches in conjunction with the drug K-9 searches.

While Board member Jeff Bergosh touts this as a victory, it clearly was a waste of time and money. Less than 2 percent of the searches found drugs. The district spent about $36,000 from its general fund for the program. About two dozen off-duty canine officers from the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office and the Pensacola Police Department were utilized for the searches.

Read more.

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  • Brian C. Abrams August 14, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    And how do we/they know if those 28 alerts were all of the alerts that should have been detected by the dogs?

    And does this county really have 24 or more k-9 cops?
    Seems like a lot for the size of the agencies involved.

  • Richard Hawkins August 13, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    The problem with this policy is there is no clearly defined goal for the searches. Rick compares busts with spending (his policy goal) and finds failure. Jeff compares searches with expulsions (his goal) and finds success.

    Here is a facetious feel-good compromise. Agents will plant drugs during every search and principals will not expel the set-up students. Everybody wins.

  • jeff bergosh August 13, 2011 at 3:58 pm


    The important yet unmentioned (in your blog post) aspect of our comprehensive drug plan is that drug related student expulsions are down 43% this year compared to last year. The trend had been going the opposite direction, but we reversed that trend. The drug dog searches are but one aspect of our multi-faceted approach to curb the presence of drugs on school campuses. This coming year, with the addition of random drug testing, we will hopefully diminish the presence of illegal drugs even more at schools. Characterizing our program as a bust is your perogative, however people who are intimately familiar with the entire issue and the results we are seeing know that this characterization is innaccurate.

    And the parents of the few students who were caught as a result of canine alerts, I’d bet those parents would disagree with your assessment as well–and are glad they know what is going on with their children and can help them get back on track.

    This is about keeping kids safe and on track, and that’s all.

    Jeff Bergosh

  • eric August 13, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    Or the money could have been used to pay about a third of an adminstrator’s salary.

    Way to go Malcolm Thomas

  • Nic August 13, 2011 at 8:42 am

    Could’ve hired another teacher for that price and saved $4,000.