'Stay Put' drills keeping schools safe and drug free

LUSK - A voice comes over the loud speaker announcing that a “Stay Put” protocol has been initiated. For the students in the Niobrara County School District this means that they are to stay in their classrooms or, if outside the classroom relocate to the nearest classroom. Teachers are to close their doors and continue teaching. In the event that the bell rings for the end of the class period prior to the drill being over all students and teachers are to stay in the classroom until the all clear announcement is given. This isn’t a lock down or lock out, it is a stay put. This protocol is to be used when there is not a dangerous situation but rather one in which administrators need to make sure all students are accounted for and available for communication.

On Tuesday, February 4 a “Stay Put” protocol was followed to ensure that a drug dog from the Torrington Police Department could do its job and search the school grounds.

Originating at LEMS, Principal Lu Kaspers contacted the Lusk Police Department and requested that a drug dog be brought onto the LEMS campus for a search. She had received multiple peer reports that students were in possession of banned or illegal substances. The Torrington Police Department had a canine officer available.

Coordinating with SRO Officer Stream the canine did a walk through of the middle school and also a locker review. The dog indicated seven hits for substances. No substances were found during the ensuing locker searches but the hits would indicate that there was residue on or in a locker or item in the locker such as backpacks or lunch bags. Middle school students were required to store their backpacks in their lockers during the search.

SRO Officer Stream then contacted Principal Phil Garhart at NCHS and asked if he would like the dog to visit the high school as well. As Garhart says, “Any time we have the opportunity we do it. It is a preventive measure.” The result of the high school search was one hit with a locker search and no substances were found at the high school.

Lusk Police Chief Bo Krein confirmed that there are no active open investigations with the district at this time. He also stated that, “Drills at the schools are an important part of being prepared as a proactive approach for any emergency. They are designed to help us prepare and give students information and knowledge of what to do and where to go. Drills are never used to scare or intimidate, but rather inform them of safe places and procedures that have been predetermined during emergencies.” Klein emphasized that bringing in a drug dog before a known issue a key component to keeping the schools safe and drug free.

Following the Stay Put drill at the middle school students were debriefed by Kaspers and any questions they had answered. Kaspers emphasized that as school property and per school policy, the school is allowed to search any locker or backpack at any time if they have reason to suspect a potential rule or law violation.

Students and parents should anticipate that preventive searches will be conducted in the future. If parents or concerned citizens have any questions they can contact Garhart or Kaspers.


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