As part of a safe-and-drug-free-schools initiative, the Aberdeen School District conducted a canine sweep of the halls, locker rooms and classrooms at Aberdeen High School on Monday, January 13. The Aberdeen Police Department and the canine narcotics units from the Quinault Nation, McCleary Police Department and the state Department of Corrections at Stafford Creek assisted the district in the search.

“This activity was carefully planned so that the rights of staff and students were protected, while also demonstrating the district’s strong interest in ensuring a safe, drug-free environment for our students,” Superintendent Alicia Henderson said. She added that the district is very appreciative of the resources and level of support that the local agencies devoted to the effort.

three canine units that assisted the district.

“The Aberdeen Police Department is committed to assisting the Aberdeen School District with their pursuit of a drug-free environment,” Aberdeen Police Chief Steve Shumate said. He noted that each canine search unit was accompanied by an Aberdeen officer and an administrator for the school district.

“We care about the health and safety of our students,” Superintendent Alicia Henderson said. “An emphasis on healthy choices should also include enforcement of a drug-free environment.”

About the process

At the start of 2nd Period, Principal Sherri Northington announced over the intercom that the school was in modified lockdown for the purpose of a Safe Schools / Drug Free Schools activity. She stressed it was not an emergency, that instruction was to continue, and that students were to remain inside their classrooms.

The canine units passed through all hallways and gym locker rooms. For the classroom searches, students were asked to step into the hallway and leave their backpacks in the classroom. A canine unit then searched the classroom. Any backpacks the dog alerted to were bagged and removed to the Community Room to be searched by district staff.

The canine units alerted on a total of 12 backpacks from lockers and classrooms. The parents of those students will be contacted to let them know the results of the search. There were three students found to be in possession of contraband and they will be assessed on a case-by-case basis according to district policy.

“I was very impressed by the professionalism of the officers who assisted us today and with the level of cooperation we received from our students,” Superintendent Henderson said.

For more information, contact Superintendent Alicia Henderson at (360) 538-2002.

Law enforcement assistance

The canine sweep was coordinated with assistance from the Aberdeen Police Department, which arranged for three narcotics units to participate:
• Officer Tyler Warne of the Quinault Nation Police Department and canine Jeb, an English Springer Spaniel. Officer Warne and Jeb have been partners for four years.
• Officer Mike Gettle of the McCleary Police Department and canine Vader, a Belgian Malinois. Officer Gettle and Vader have been partners for the past 3 years.
• Officer Ben Olague of the Department of Corrections at Stafford Creek and canine Indy, a terrier-pointer mix. Officer Olague and Indy have been partners since 2016.

APD Officers Loren Neil, Jesus Martinez and Nathan Nussbaum, SRO Officer Bob Green and Deputy Chief Jay Staten teamed up with the canine units to also assist the district in the sweep.

Community resources at work

Aberdeen School District is a partner in Harbor Strong, a coalition of local health, treatment and law enforcement agencies working to curtail drug and alcohol use among school-age youth while actively supporting healthy lifestyle choices and activities.

The supports in place in the Aberdeen School District include:
• The Lifeskills curriculum at Miller Junior High School, which is a drug prevention program offered through a state grant;
• Safety First, an online curriculum that will be required of students who were found to be in possession of contraband;
• Second Steps at Miller Junior High School and Character Strong at Aberdeen High School, two social-emotional curriculum that focus on decision-making skills and character development;
• “Things to Know Before You Say Go,” which will be offered to freshmen girls in partnership with Beyond Survival, and
• PBIS, which is being implemented districtwide. PBIS stands for Positive Behavior, Intervention and Supports. It involves training of staff and students on building positive relationships and reducing negative behaviors and actions. The district’s anti-bullying and harassment policy is implemented under the umbrella of PBIS.

Keeping families involved

Two family meetings are planned:
• 6 p.m. Thursday, February 20, at Miller Junior High School for Miller families,
• 6 p.m. Monday, March 16, in the Auditorium at Aberdeen High School for AHS and Harbor High School families.

These meetings will include a panel of local experts from Aberdeen Police Department, Behavioral Health Resources and the medical community. The program will include a video produced with footage shot by Loren Neil of the Aberdeen Police Department that includes interviews with residents who describe the unhealthy lifestyles and choices that put them on a path to drug addiction.