What's the rush?Pleasanton has always made crime prevention a top priority, which benefits all that live, work and raise families here. But in a city that has spent millions of dollars in litigation costs and with a school district that's not far behind, proponents of sending drug-sniffing dogs onto high school campuses should make sure the legality of the sniffing is clear before making the move.
The school board's much-publicized effort to use dogs to reduce drug use in the schools also has another consequence. It's sending a message that Pleasanton may have more of a teenage drug problem than it does, which may frighten away new residents and/or create a negative image of our community. One Realtor already has heard from a Raleigh, N.C., mother who is considering a move here but now is concerned because of the stories she has read about drug problems in our city's high schools.
The subject, which writer Glenn Wohltmann covers in depth in today's cover story in the Pleasanton Weekly, has been among the most talked-about/written-about school stories in recent weeks throughout the Bay Area and other parts of the country. From national newsletters such as "Police Link" to "Dogs Online" to newspapers in Beaumont, Texas, and Palm Desert, Calif., Pleasanton high schools, drugs and sniffing dogs have been among leading reports. Facebook last week included commentaries such as "So, paying extra for a police dog is more important than education?" and, "I see drug sniffing dogs as nothing more that a measure to keep drugs out of schools in affluent communities where kids have the means to acquire them." Pleasanton Police have said they will not charge for the service.
Wohltmann points out that there continues to be concern over the legality of drug-detection dogs sniffing around public school campuses, although most courts have agreed that it's not an intrusive act. Still, as Wohltmann writes, the U.S. Supreme Court may have the final word when it rules later this year on a Florida case. Our school board, though, wants to have its dog-detection policy in place for a vote on Feb. 28. We don't need another lawsuit against the Pleasanton school district and, since Pleasanton police dogs will be used, against the city. Why not wait until the Supreme Court rules. What's the rush?