Pubdate: Mon, 01 Apr 2002
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2002 The Ottawa Citizen
Author: Timon LeDain


Re: School suspends teen on drug dog's say-so, March 27.

Although detection of the smell of marijuana might justify a search of 
Chris Laurin's jacket and locker, it should not be the basis of his suspension.

These animals are investigators in our war on drugs, but they should never 
become a judge and jury.

I had a similar incident occur when I travelled to Florida to visit with 
family. A drug-sniffing golden retriever used by the U.S. customs 
authority, identified my luggage to his handler during a drug search. I 
almost missed my flight since I had to unpack every item in the bag in 
front of the agent. As incredible as these animals are for being able to 
identify drugs from minute traces of them in the air, they are not infallible.

After 30 minutes, the U.S. customs agent sent me on my way. The search 
proved the dog had been wrong.

The high school principal should have done the same when a search of the 
coat and Chris's locker proved him innocent. To have suspended him despite 
a clean search was a terrible judgment call.

I applaud Chris and his family for not simply accepting the sentence and 
fighting it. He deserves a formal apology for the incident.

Timon LeDain,

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