‘I Do Not Understand’: Citing Coach’s Drug Arrest, Resident Seeks Info from Board of Ed on Allowing Police K-9 Dog in NCHS

Citing the recent arrest of a New Canaan High School coach after authorities found him to be in possession of 20 bags of heroin, a prominent resident on Monday night urged district officials to rethink their policy on K-9 sweeps at the Farm Road building.

Chris Hussey told members of the Board of Education at their regular meeting (see video above at 2:30) that she learned about one year ago that in order for the New Canaan Police Department’s K-9 dog to come to the school, “they had to give the school notification.”

New Canaan Police K-9 Officer David Rivera and drug-sniffing dog Apollo at NCHS on Aug. 26, 2015. Credit: Michael Dinan

“I said I didn’t understand that,” Hussey said at the school board meeting, held in the Wagner Room at NCHS.

“The idea, I would think, is surprise. He [Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi] was going to speak to the chief and get back to me. We never got together. I spoke to the chief a short while ago and he said nothing had ever transpired. In view of what has recently transpired, I am thinking to myself, perhaps something might have been discovered. perhaps the situation might have been avoided. I do not understand—I didn’t then, I don’t now—why you would need notification. The whole idea is surprise. Why would you need to be notified that they were coming on the premises? If you have nothing to hide, you let them come. So I would like your opinion on that.”

Citing a the Board of Ed’s usual practice—though there have been exceptions—Chair Dionna Carlson told Hussey: “We don’t respond to public comment, we just listen at the meeting.”

Hussey asked: “At what point might I expect a response, or might the public expect a response?”

Luizzi told Hussey that he would respond directly to her.

He could not immediately be reached for comment.

In the wake of assistant basketball coach Jose Amor’s arrest, Luizzi earlier this month called for a “review of every coach in our program.” Amor’s state coaching certification had expired, records show, and news of a past criminal charge while working at another area high school—cleared by the Connecticut Judicial Branch after he successfully completed an “accelerated rehabilitation” program—has lingered online through searches.

The NCPD K-9 dog, Apollo, three summers ago swept the hallways at the high school for heroin during a training exercise. The next month, police officials said they were seeking a way to introduce unannounced sweeps of NCHS for narcotics. Police Chief Leon Krolikowski said at the time: “It is just our job to disrupt that and make people think twice if they are going to bring drugs on campus. That is our intent. We are working with the superintendent where there is some kind of policy where we are able to go, unannounced, and check for narcotics.”

He also said at the time that the department is seeing “a ton of marijuana” which is “more or less decriminalized” and that New Canaan “is seeing heroin here, no doubt,” as well as crack, cocaine and other narcotics.

“We can’t stop people from doing certain things in their own homes but certainly we can make it difficult for them to bring drugs into school, and make it uncomfortable for them, and arrest people, especially if they are selling,” he said at the time.

Asked at the time of the K-9 sweep whether unannounced visits by the K-9 dog could become part of NCHS policy, Luizzi said the school board was reviewing its policies and was committed to making its schools drug-free.

District officials later said the school board was waiting for its newly formed group to settle in following the 2015 election to review the policy regarding the K-9 dog, but no such policy has emerged.

4 thoughts on “‘I Do Not Understand’: Citing Coach’s Drug Arrest, Resident Seeks Info from Board of Ed on Allowing Police K-9 Dog in NCHS

  1. Michael: Thank you for your article re drug sweeping at NCHS. In my opinion, the local police force should be able to conduct sweeps whenever they want, and informing the school when these sweeps will occur is like giving the “enemy” a date and time when to expect an insurgency. Whatever it takes to tamp down drugs with our young people – particularly with the horrific episodes that have taken place in schools around the country – I am all for unannounced inspections.

  2. Referring to school officials as the “enemy” is wrong and insulting. Do you think those officials will rush off to warn students that a drug sweep is coming if they are told in advance? The school officials are, in fact, the first line of defense against drugs in our schools, and they should be supported in their efforts, not cast as the bad guys.
    And if you’re really worried about the horrific episodes that have taken place in schools around the country, do something about guns. Drugs have not been implicated in any of those events.

  3. I agree with Norm Sweeters… So many people loose sight of what needs to be done to keep this sought of thing from happening again. The police are here to protect the folks who live in this town, as long as it doesn’t interfere with your rights.
    Norm Jensen…

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