To the editor:
Davis County School District recently adopted a policy to allow the use of police dogs to search the halls of Davis County schools for evidence of illicit drugs.The ACLU of Utah is concerned that such a procedure violates the spirit of the Fourth Amendment by subjecting students to searches before any finding of individualized suspicion.
High school is a time when students develop a sense of civic responsibility. It is of vital importance that they are ingrained with a respect for the Constitution and individual rights and freedoms.
Uniquely, American is a land where the accused are innocent until proven guilty, where police cannot enter homes without a warrant issued upon finding probable cause, where privacy is highly valued and protected. These fundamental freedoms have survived 200 years, not because they are written in our Constitution but because they are given life by our citizenry.
It would be a profound tragedy if the newest members of our body politic were robbed of those values, never learning respect for individual privacy and integrity, because they themselves were arbitrarily subjected to summary police tactics and invasion.
The ACLU understands that Davis County's policy is an attempt at bringing the drug problem afflicting our youth under control, but how effective will this tactic be?
Would not the precious resources of the school be better spent by mounting a major anti-drug educational campaign? In that way a young person will be given the message that he should make a responsible decision not to take drugs based upon information and understanding.
The presence of police and police dogs roaming the halls of Davis County schools will result in further alienation of students from authority and could irreparably damage their conception of liberty.
Robyn E. Blumner
American Civil Liberties Union of Utah