North Farmington 'Lockdown' Exercise Nets Marijuana Possession Ticket

Police found a small amount of marijuana as K-9s-in-training searched lockers and cars.

A planned lock-down exercise at today resulted in a student being ticketed for marijuana possession and angered some students. 

In an email sent out to the North Farmington list serv at 9:52 a.m., school officials wrote that the exercise was part of an "ongoing effort to ensure a safe and successful learning environment" for the school's more than 1,400 students. It also offered a training opportunity for K-9 teams not only in Farmington Hills, but around the Detroit metropolitan area. 

"This helps their teams train in a real environment, and it also gives NFHS one more valuable way to ensure the safety, well-being, and success of your daughters and sons," officials wrote. 

Chief Nebus said K-9s from Canton Township, Trenton, Flat Rock, Hamtramck, Garden City and Grosse Pointe, as well as Hills K-9 Argos, searched both lockers and vehicles in the school parking lot.

"We try to bring in a bunch so we can get in and out as quickly as we can," he said. Dogs "hit" on three lockers and nine vehicles, resulting in interviews with those students. 

"This was done as a precautionary measure," Nebus said, "not in response to anything that occurred at the school."

A similar exercise was done last year at , he added. 

The North Farmington drill "went very well. The success is we only found a very small amount of marijuana in a car in the parking lot."

A few students took to Twitter to voice their displeasure with the way the exercise was handled. Twitter users created the hashtags #occupynorth and #occupynorthbegins, identifying with the nationwide movement protesting economic and social inequality. 

Farmington-Farmington Hills Patch was unable to reach North Farmington's administration for comment.

Jim Fields January 14, 2012 at 06:03 AM
That K9 doesn't need probable cause to sniff things. I can use my nose to smell whenever I want, you can use your nose to smell whenever you want... So can the dog. If a teacher smelled marijuana coming from a locker would that be different from a dog doing it? No. That dog walked through the hallways and parking lot, smelled drugs, and the fact that the dog alerted the handler IS the probable cause.
S January 14, 2012 at 11:02 PM
Let me start with Miriam, you are a fan of the "nanny state" yet have problems with this. Do you remember just a few short years ago when they wanted to set up check points and stop cars (whether guilty or not) and do breathalizers? Did you feel that was a violation of your right to privacy or did you applaud, under the guise of the "nanny state" that you are now guilty until proven innocent? Give up your rights to the government and you won't have any. A wise man once said, "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." You, Miriam, when you give your liberty away for a "nanny" state that protects you from yourself, have no right to privacy or anything else. Sorry, but your take on this and your take on a nanny state has you talking out both sides of your mouth. That being said, I always default on the side of liberty, given to us from a higher authority, not the government. So, I find this "training" exercise a complete frontal assault to liberty. This was no simple "sweep" of North. This was another attempt on the part of the district to prove their unfettered power. They believe they are G-d and that any rights the students have flow from them. Again, they don't care who they hurt, damage they cause, long term harm they inflict. Yes, they have been conducting sweeps for years, but never in this manner. What prompted including all of these other cities? Why North? Why our our kids
S January 14, 2012 at 11:10 PM
"training" exercise material for police departments around the area. There were no less than 5 different departments involved. Why our school and why our district? I believe that FPS has a lot to answer to the parents, students, and the community as a whole. All this talk about drugs, their effect, is sidestepping the real question and issue here? What is FPS administration up to, and why? Let's ask the questions and let's get the answers. Warning to all parents: Instruct your children to NEVER talk to administration ALONE if they are called in for any reason. Make sure you have standing orders that if something happens with your child, that they are not allowed to talk to counselors, prinicpals, guidance counselors, etc., unless you are PRESENT. These are people who WILL use any information they garner from your child against them. As so many students noted...they pretend to be your ally, but the truth is, when something goes wrong, they are only on one side, the district's...and they effectively become your enemy. There are a slew of parents and former students who will verify what I am telling you. Terry, while I do not agree with you on many of your comments, I do believe I remember you, and you are correct....overall, the vast majority of the Board will do nothing, they will pretend to be interested, and then do what they wish - and all the administrative staff will follow with their very brown noses. You are also correct that the only
S January 14, 2012 at 11:20 PM
way to change things is to elect new board members who have a completely different philosophy...instead of electing the likes of Bolsen and Wallach, once again. There were other candidates this past election...ones that would have seen to it that it was no longer the status quo. Oh well...it's really too bad that most people in Farmington, FH do not vote in these elections. The truth is...as we can see now...your vote does matter. Everyone who is concerned should prepare statements for the January 24th board meeting at the Lewis Schulman Building. Plan to be there a long time, Public Comments are at the end of the meeting, another attempt to keep the community at a distance and uninvolved. Most people are not willing to wait till 10 or 11 pm to comment. None of this is done by accident. All of the Board's actions are well planned, thought out, and meant to keep community involvement in the education of our children at a minimum. Pay attention people...we have no more precious commodity than our children.
Steven January 15, 2012 at 12:29 AM
I think this Terry dude needs to realize he doesn't know anything about this North Farmington generation. You need to realize we're just kids and bringing in punk dogs into the school as a "drill" is totally out of line. And another thing, my brother's car got searched cause those little marijuana brain washed dogs hopped all over his car not to add scratching some parts of it. The funny thing is my brother doesn't smoke and didn't have weed in his car. Shows you that this dumb drill was just to catch anyone they could just to ruin a person's life.
Miriam Breslauer January 15, 2012 at 01:48 AM
I consider check points to be paternalistic and not nanny state. For me Nanny State is pre-emptive lecturing about proper behavior or taking away a driver's license when someone is found to be drinking and driving recklessly. A paternalistic society assumes that everyone is guilty so you might as well treat them all as such. A maternalistic society assumes that people will do dumb things if they aren't informed of the dangers and a percentage will keep doing dumb things so those individuals have to be protected from themselves once they have proven their incompetance.
S January 16, 2012 at 04:37 PM
Personally, I would send the bill for scratches or damage to any cars incurred due to this "training exercise" to FPS. They should pay. They are responsible for the damage incurred.
John Ferguson January 16, 2012 at 04:41 PM
Terry, I don't think you are grasping a few of our points. This is not about the end result (finding pot - which is a whole different issue). I feel these students were treated as criminals because they were searched just like a criminal would be searched in a jail. I'm sorry but IMO, just because you are a student in a public school doesn't mean that your car can be searched by drug dogs whenever they want. We have a bill of rights for a reason. These students rights were left at their homes apparently. I didn't know we had to give up our rights to attend public schools.
John Ferguson January 16, 2012 at 04:44 PM
This is a great topic and discussion. I think we all want what is best for the students, but we just may disagree on how to arrive there.
John Ferguson January 16, 2012 at 04:46 PM
Agreed. This is about our freedoms.
Cheryl Shah January 17, 2012 at 03:36 PM
There are two differences I consider significant, between this NFHS search and entering Ford Field to attend a Lions game. One, attending a Lions game is 100% voluntary; attending school is compulsory, at least until age 16 or 18 (depending on whether you turned 11 before or after December 1, 2009 http://legislature.mi.gov/doc.aspx?mcl-380-1561) Two, when you purchase tickets to a Lions game, you have very specific advance notice of when your personal belongings will be inspected. There was no notice at all given, to those whose belongings were searched, prior to this training exercise. (I realize some people will interpret the Student Code of Conduct p. 8-9 as "advance notice." I do not.) I also have to disagree on its having been established in this conversation that a search such as this could be done to anyone, anywhere. If that's true, what's to stop taking these K-9s "for a walk" through neighborhoods. If a dog indicates that it smells something in that circumstance, does that give the officer sufficient probable cause to enter a private home? I think another telling question would be: were the cars in the employee parking lot sniffed as well, or only the cars in the student lot? No matter whose car any drugs are in, drug-free zone means drug-free zone, right?
S January 17, 2012 at 04:13 PM
Cheryl, Actually, I do remember a while ago, when exactly what you suggested, that dogs could sniff out illegal drugs in a neighborhood, and that way give police probable cause to enter the home/car, was actually bantered about in a community. If I remember correctly, there was such outrage at this concept, invasion of privacy, police powers run amok, that it was quickly dropped. I, too, would like to know if employee cars were targeted. Of course, I highly doubt it, because then the district would have to deal with that embarassment when there was a "hit" on an employee vehicle. Just?wonder, would they call the employee out of class in front of everyone, and if something was "found" then handcuff and arrest them in plain sight of the student body. Knowing the duplicity and hypocrisy of our "illustrious" FPS, my answer to that would be ---no way.
Cheryl Shah January 17, 2012 at 04:18 PM
Miriam, if the board appears to be ignoring comments, I don't believe it is because the point is inconvenient - it is because speaking on record is far more consequential for them than for those making public comments. The board members and administrators need to check facts and deliberate prior to saying anything that could be possibly be construed as a binding commitment. I definitely don't want to bring politics into this, but remember how Michelle Bachmann got hammered for very publicly quoting some random stranger about the HPV vaccine causing brain damage (and rightly so, I will say). Point being, public officials have to watch what they say or they can end up in real hot water, real quick. Given my experiences and observations at Board of Ed meetings, it's difficult for me to imagine a truly positive outcome, for anyone, if board members ever engaged individual public commenters in serious conversation during these meetings. For example, it's clear to me that however many people speak in opposition to this search, there will be a comparable number speaking in support of it. My hunch is that if the board were to give the slightest indication of taking either side during the meeting things between audience members, and between board and audience, would just get ugly, and fast.
S January 17, 2012 at 04:27 PM
Cheryl, I disagree. The Board picks and chooses which comments they want to reply to. At just the last meeting, Karen Bolsen replied to a comment, then when Murray Kahn also wished to reply to a comment Boslen told him that this was a time we listen to what the community has to say, not engage in dialogue - although she had just done the very same. All very selective on the part of the board members. At the contentious June 14 Board meeting regarding the sale of Eagle, the Board - without a single word of dilberation between them, ALL the board members gave extended commentary on the community public comments, calling many who spoke bigots and racists. This isn't about being "careful" this is about what they think is important enough for them to comment on. We are not fooled by their silence...it is all "duplicitous" on their part.
Cheryl Shah January 18, 2012 at 04:32 PM
I do not know anyone who has OD'ed. But if I did, I am as certain as I can be that I would still see this search as an unacceptable infringement of rights. Your comments have the feel of a dismissive attitude toward rights, that troubles me. Rights are very easy to lose and, once lost, very difficult to regain. Benjamin Franklin said, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” I don't quite agree with not deserving liberty and safety - I think everyone deserves those - but I would say that they who give up liberty to obtain safety will have neither. "Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficent." -- Justice Louis Brandeis,1928
S January 18, 2012 at 07:03 PM
Actually, Terry, and I think you already know this, there are specific roles for the government as outlined in both the Declaration of Independence AND the Constitution. Not sure why you took your last statement to the nth degree...of course there is a role for government and their use of our tax dollars. The question, all this begs, is: has government overstepped their boundaries? I think most of us who are not left wing loonies, would answer squarely in the affirmative. So, that begs the question of when is enough, enough. Personally, I am sick of the government telling us what our children can eat or not eat in school, yes, forcing us to wear seat belts, forcing motorcycle helmets, all of which are personal choices that effect me...not you. And yes, I have heard all the arguments about the costs associated with not doing these things. But it is a PERSONAL choice. My not wearing my seatbelt in no way threatens you or causes me to have an accident with you. Driving an unlimited speed does threaten you. So, of course there is a role for government. But, it has been sorely overstepped. As for leaving, it appears when governments assume unfettered power, as ours seems to be approaching, that power includes limiting the ability of their populous to travel freely. Miriam, I used the Ben Franklin quote in an earlier post.
Cheryl Shah January 18, 2012 at 08:01 PM
Terry, What was your point? That if I agree to the very existence of government at all, I should have no problem with unreasonable searches and seizures? "It is to secure our rights that we resort to government at all." -- Thomas Jefferson to Francois D'Ivernois, 1795 The purpose of government is to protect the rights of all citizens equally, from infringement by other citizens. And, ideally, from itself. But that tends not to happen. That is why it is said that "the price of liberty is eternal vigilance."
Cheryl Shah January 18, 2012 at 08:38 PM
S, good point about travel. It's already limited: http://www.aclu.org/national-security/frequently-asked-questions-about-no-fly-list
Miriam Breslauer January 18, 2012 at 11:48 PM
As a person with food allergies, including dangerous inhallant reactions to Nuts, Peanuts, Popcorn, and Corn, I fully support a schools right to provide a safe food environment for children with food allergies. I understand there is no way that a school could guarentee the safety of someone like myself, but they can make sure that a child with my level of allergic reaction isn't ending up in the Emergency room every day by providing some areas free from contaimination of the food allergens. It won't prevent all problems, but it will keep daily incidents and potentially a death from happening. Helmets and seatbelts are important Nanny state recommendations. Both lower the amount of damage to people to utilize them who end up in accidents. Accidents happen and the point of Nanny state recommendations/regulations is to lower the number of people mortally wounded or permanently disabled. If someone is injured severely in an accident because they ignored common sense safety precautions, then society as a whole (through medicare and social security disability) often has to pay for that person's medical care and continuing life (since they may become too injured to work or take care of themself). A person who becomes disabled due to drugs doesn't qualify for Social Security Disability.
Miriam Breslauer January 19, 2012 at 05:25 PM
The question for me is what was the message the students took away from this incident. Did they learn drugs are bad and you will be punished if you use them? Or did they learn that adults don't respect them enough to make their own choices, so they just have to be more clever in hiding questionable social behavior? Or did they learn an entirely different lesson? I am just happy that we are having such a long conversation here about a topic rarely talked about.
Cheryl Shah January 19, 2012 at 11:12 PM
Miriam, I didn't witness the last meeting. When Eagle was sold, I think there was enough publicity by those opposed to it that the board would have been able to consider their comments before the meeting. Maybe that will be the case in this situation as well. The board of ed members spend a ton of their personal time on this stuff, and get very little for it. If you held an elected office, and a large group of your constituents showed up at a public meeting, with opposing but equally vehement opinions, how would you respond? Either way, half the people will feel that they have not been "represented".
Cheryl Shah January 19, 2012 at 11:13 PM
Oops, sorry, that should have been addressed to "S", not Miriam.
Miriam Breslauer January 20, 2012 at 06:43 AM
If I held public office and the public actually took the time to talk with me about their concerns in large numbers, I would listen to them indepth and then after the meeting look more into those concerns to see what triggered them. The whole point of holding public office is to represent the people of your area. Listening to and attempting to comprehend your community's concerns are important parts of being a public representative. It might be faster and more convenient to ignore the public, but then you aren't doing the job properly that you were voted for.
Cheryl Shah January 20, 2012 at 02:46 PM
Miriam you said, "I would listen to them indepth and then after the meeting look more into those concerns to see what triggered them." How is that different from what the trustees on the board of ed do? You then said, "The whole point of holding public office is to represent the people of your area." Right, but how does one represent people who are divided into mutually exclusive opinions?
Miriam Breslauer January 20, 2012 at 05:57 PM
I have yet to be before the board of education, so I don't know how they currently handle public oppinion for myself. From Cheryl's own statements, it was mentioned that "the school board meetings are a meeting of the board which takes place in public; not a meeting of the board with the public". If I held public office there would be a period where the public could definitely be part of the meeting. Sure there will be dissenting public view points. If the groups are too large for each person to reasonably speak before everyone passed out from exhaustion, I would ask the larger dissenting groups to pick 1-3 representatives to speak the groups opinion from their perspective. I would ask for the group(s) that disagree with the speaking groups to be allowed to finish their statement before they react so loud that they disrespectfully drown out the speaker. I would note the concerns of all the groups and any solutions that they recommended. Then I would research the concerns and solutions prior to the next meeting, especially those I personally disagreed with. Talk with the board prior to the meeting about what was found while looking into the issue. Then work with the board to come up with a unified position prior to the next meeting, with explanations on why we are taking that position. Make the board's opinion/decision a matter of public record in the next meeting.
Cheryl Shah January 20, 2012 at 08:41 PM
Miriam, I'm still confused as to what is different between what the board does now, and what you've described here. Could you elaborate on the following one of your statements please? "If I held public office there would be a period where the public could definitely be part of the meeting."
Cheryl Shah January 24, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Terry, Being legal does not imply being effective, desirable, and/or morally right. A moment's reflection should bring to mind a number of things that used to be legal in the US that are none of the latter. But if you need help, just ask. The FPS website says there are 1349 students at NFHS. Apparently, 1348 of them already didn't bring drugs to school, even without having experienced this kind of intimidation. Yet this search treated all of them as though they are inherently untrustworthy. I've typed and deleted several attempts to explain why that matters so much, but I don't think I have the ability to communicate it to you at this time. I'll just say I think your reasoning "people tend to do things the elicit favorable responses and avoid those that have negative results" is vastly oversimplified. People are complex, and in reality are often motivated to do things that have negative results in response to feeling that they have been treated unfairly.
Miriam Breslauer January 24, 2012 at 04:48 PM
I plan on attending the School Board Meeting tonight with my husband. I really hope the rest of you join us. Due to a Supreme Court ruling in the last week, searches of cars without a warrant or the owner's consent is not legal.
Miriam Breslauer January 24, 2012 at 11:19 PM
I appologize. I might not be able to make it. My health just took a turn for the worse. I really hope someone else can make it and explain the problem to the School Board. Cars are private property and searches without a warrant violate the Fourth Amendment which protects the "right of the people to be secure in teheir persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures," and a car is an "effect." This was firmly established in case law on Monday 1/23/11 in United States v. Jones. So if a cop ever asks to search your vehicle, require that they show you their warrant first. Even if you have nothing to hide, it is important to stand up for your rights. It is your right no matter your age or the location of the vehicle. School lockers are allowed to be searched because they are the school's property and not your own. A closed backpack in a locker is more questionable on whether it can be searched.
Cheryl Shah January 25, 2012 at 05:26 PM
You can email the Board of Ed at boardofed@farmington.k12.mi.us. I think it's just as worthwhile as speaking at a meeting - possibly more so.


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