The chief of police said Tuesday that officials plan to re-start their efforts to work with the district on a plan to allow a trained drug-sniffing dog into New Canaan schools as part of a wider effort to prevent use and abuse of narcotics.
Responding to a question from Selectman Kit Devereaux while presenting the New Canaan Police Department’s proposed budget, Chief Leon Krolikowski said effort had “stalled” though “we are going to try and restart that movement, to try to do something reasonable and balanced.”
“Because I don’t think anyone wants drugs in school and we want to do our best to try to prevent it from happening and use every tool we have to stop that,” Krolikowski said during a regular meeting of the Board of Selectmen, held at Town Hall. “And we are going to do our best to restart that process and get that discussion going again. Certainly the biggest drug of choice in New Canaan is alcohol and close to that is prescription drug use, misuse of it. Xanax, that’s a big drug. That is being used, and that is from a fairly recent investigation and we see that, a substantial use of Xanax, especially younger people using and abusing it along with other drugs and substances. That’s a recent arrest and investigation. Sale of marijuana, heroin, of course we do not like to see that and that is one of the drugs we like to go after.”
The comments came as Krolikowski presented the department’s $5.9 million operating budget proposal, a 2.4 percent increase over current spending.
One goal of the department is to “reduce the availability of narcotics, especially heroin, that continues to be a big concern,” Krolikowski said.
“The sale of narcotics is is focused on investigations,” he said. “And tied into that we are going to work closely with our schools to try and minimize the availability of drugs in school.”
It’s been nearly six months since district officials broached the subject of allowing police searches with drug-sniffing dogs in school.
At the August meeting of the Board of Education, then-Chair Dionna Carlson voiced concerns about how allowing a K-9 unit from NCPD into the schools, even on a number of conditions, would affect students.
“I for one think we have an amazing police force, but I do not want our schools to become a police state,” Carlson, now the school board’s vice chair, said at the time.
Her comments came during a second read of a proposed new policy to introduce the K-9 searches under a number of conditions. They would have included that the administration would authorize the search in the first place, that the principal or designated individual would be present for it, that searches would be restricted to lockers, classrooms and parking and storage areas, notification of the relevant student in the event that a dog was “alerted” during a search and notification of parents if such an alert led to a search of student’s property.
Police officials have called for unannounced K-9 sweeps for drugs at New Canaan High School for more than three years. Following a widely publicized heroin arrest last year, both police officials and residents urged the district to allow the K-9 searches, yet the matter has not been discussed publicly by the Board of Ed since that August meeting.
According to a Krolikowski, there’s a segment of people in New Canaan in their early-20s that are involved with heroin.
“And every kid I spoke with that is an addict or is involved with heroin started using substances early, in junior high school and high school, and continued a cycle,” he said.
“So I think the sooner we intervene and interrupt that whole cycle of use, hopefully we can get these people the help they need and stop the cycle of addiction from happening. And that is our goal. We are not here to bring a prison bust and arrest all the kids in the high school. We are here to intervene and prevent use of substances and that is our goal and we are hoping that other folks see that the same way.”