Ocean County’s Fight Against Drugs: Random High School Sweeps Will Continue
To reduce drug usage at a younger age and hopefully prevent the use of another body bag in the future, the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office continues a string of random drug searches at high schools throughout the county.
According to county prosecutor Joseph Coronato, every high school has been visited by officers and K9 units since the effort began in 2014, but the sweeps are not stopping.
"We're only there for about an hour, usually one full period," Coronato said. "We really don't want to disturb the entire school day in doing that."
Sweeps also cover the school parking lots.
Illegal substances have been discovered during the sweeps, Coronato said, but would not specify at which school(s).
If the search dogs "hit on" a certain area in the school, such as a hallway locker, Coronato said, a second set of dogs is brought in to see if the same area is sniffed out. If so, police obtain a warrant over the phone in a matter of minutes and conduct a thorough search.
"We really want to send a message within the school system that bringing drugs into the school area or into the school parking lot is not going to be tolerated," he said.
The goal is not to land kids in jail, he noted. Uncovered issues would ideally be handled by students' parents and school administration. The law could get involved, however, depending on what is found during the sweep.
The county registered more than 200 overdose deaths in 2016.
In December, the heroin antidote Narcan was distributed to school nurses and other staff members at every Ocean County high school.