Monday, October 24, 2011

High school terrorizes students to clear hall for drug search

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Joseph Macary (Superintendent, Walcott School District)
Supt Joseph Macary

And teenagers now have one more reason not to trust authorities. It started when students at Connecticut’s Wolcott High School recently had a bit of a Columbine/Virginia Tech-style panic:

At Wolcott High School one morning this week, an urgent announcement crackled over the intercom: a threatening intruder was in the building and students were told to immediately take refuge in classrooms.

Doors were locked and police, with dogs, moved in. Students stayed huddled in classrooms where they were told to stay away from the windows.

There’s just one problem, though. About that “threatening intruder”:

But what sounded like a frightening situation was just a search for narcotics. Drug-sniffing dogs combed the school while students stayed in locked classrooms, believing that an attacker was roaming the halls.

Drug-free schools are an admirable goal but I wonder when we reached the point where the war on drugs justifies police searches under the ruse of a Virginia Tech-style attack.

What on earth could authorities in Wolcott be thinking?

Ooh, I know! That it doesn’t matter if they destroy any trust kids may have in both school administrators and law enforcement officers, just so long as they make sure their lockers are devoid of the occasional milligram of weed? That’s it, right?

As is typical, the geniuses behind this little stunt can’t seem to understand what all the fuss is about:

The drug search is "something that is good to do periodically. It says we don't have drugs in the school,'' [school board Chairwoman Patricia Najarian] said. "Either way it's a win-win. I know people get concerned … there seems to be an overreaction."

Right. What’s not to get angry about? They just agreed to terrorize an entire schoolful of impressionable youths with a scenario reminiscent of some of the most horrific and deadliest attacks in recent memory, all for the sole purpose of getting them out of the way so they can search the school for something that, ideally, should be cause for neither the police concern nor the public hysteria it currently engenders. Why should people possibly be upset over that?

As if that weren’t enough, the video at the source article (which I can’t embed here) provides yet more insight into these people’s embarrassing lack of understanding:

SUPERINTENDENT JOSEPH MACARY: I mean, we didn’t go in and scare them. We went in and said, “There’s a lockdown with an intruder in the building.”

Because those things are mutually exclusive, evidently. Doesn’t it show?

The video also reveals another informational tidbit, probably most telling of all [my emphasis]:

REPORTER: Maybe that’s not scary, maybe it is, but he says it’s the proper way to ensure kids and teachers are ready for the real thing. It’s a plan Macary says they developed three years ago with police, Homeland Security, and the State Department of Emergency Services.

Because a department that’s shown such capable handling of the general public and a mastery of PR in a key branch, the TSA, is obviously one that can be consulted in the expectation of developing effective and not-at-all harebrained tactics for ensuring the security and well-being of schools and students.

As usual, the only thing made readily obvious in these reports – other than that drugs are far less common in schools than officials would love for us to fear believe, seeing as how all these searches keep coming up empty – is the utter and perpetual cluelessness of those we put in charge of our safety and well-being. At least this is one important life lesson that the students of Walcott High have now gleaned first-hand.

(via @radleybalko)