Police canines make sweep through Portage High School

2013-04-11T18:58:00Z 2013-04-11T22:31:05Z Police canines make sweep through Portage High SchoolJoyce Russell joyce.russell@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2222 nwitimes.com

PORTAGE | Eight police dogs made a sweep through Portage High School Thursday morning in what officials described as a proactive approach to send a message that drugs will not be tolerated.

Police said no drugs were found Thursday at the school.

"We want to send a continued message that drugs will not be tolerated in our community, especially in our schools," said Portage Police Chief Troy Williams prior to the officers entering the school.

Williams, who served six years as school resource officer before becoming police chief, added they also wanted students to be aware that they will be held accountable.

"This lets our kids realize that we are serious about keeping drugs out of our school," said Principal Caren Swickard. "We want all of our kids to know this is a safe place."

It was the first time in several years a drug sweep with dogs has been conducted, but said Williams, they are likely to become more frequent as the Portage department reinstates its canine program.

Dogs and their handlers from Porter, Porter County and Valparaiso police departments entered the high school about 8:40 a.m. while students were in their classrooms. The units swept through the halls, sniffing lockers.

Five random classrooms also were picked.

Students in those classrooms put their backpacks in the halls to allow the canines to detect any potential illegal drugs.

The sweep of the 2,700-student school took about 40 minutes. Swickard said the units were able to make a sweep of the entire school.

While the dogs "hit" a couple of times, searches of lockers and backpacks found there were no illegal drugs.

Williams said after the sweep he believed it "went well." While no drugs were found, Williams said the community and parents need to "be cautious if they think drugs will never be here."

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