Drug-searching dogs used at Lawrence High School this semester sniffed out five caches of drugs or drug paraphernalia.
But students interviewed this morning had differing opinions of how effective the drug searches have been in keeping drugs off the LHS campus.
LHS Principal Brad Tate said drug-sniffing dogs were called to the campus four times this semester -- once a month between January and April. The school usually employed four dogs at a time to check students' cars and lockers.
Tate said dogs sniffed out illegal substances five times. While most finds involved marijuana, Tate said, at least one find involved paraphernalia related to cocaine use.
Tate said that before searching cars or lockers, the students to whom they belonged would be called to the scene. When drugs were found, both the drugs and the student were handed over to authorities.
"The students know the dogs' noses work," Tate said. However, he said, "We weren't very smart the first few times we brought the dogs in."
He said the dogs were brought in through the front entrance of the school and were allowed to warm up on the school's front lawn before beginning their search. That gave students a chance to see the dogs and even remove their cars from the school parking lot during breaks between classes.
Tate said officials now bring dogs into the school from a less visible location.
Tate said a search usually involves three dogs from Springfield, Mo., and a fourth dog from the Douglas County Sheriff's Department. There is no charge for using the local dog, but use of the Springfield dogs costs $100 each.
Tate said he thinks it's money well spent.
LHS senior David Weroha said the drug searches have had an impact.
"It's my perception that school is another place to socialize and to let people know what you do and what you've got. That's why students bring stuff to school," Weroha said. "By using the drug dogs, students are a little more conscientious and might hesitate a little bit more to bring drugs to school."
Weroha added that word gets around about students who have been busted with the help of the canines.
"People talk about it all the time," he said. "The school thrives on gossip, so that's what people want to hear."
But LHS junior Joyce Miles said she doesn't think gossip will keep students from bringing drugs to school.
"You tell a 3-year-old not to touch a stove because it's hot, and they'll only listen to you after they get burned," Miles said.
She said many students carry drugs on their person, making the search of cars and lockers ineffective.