School uses searches, reporting with discretion
October 21, 2007
It seems that Steamboat Springs High school is a pretty safe place, but when threatening circumstances arise, how are they dealt with?
Sophomore Aimee Jones said she feels secure at school.
“In general, I do feel safe here, because I feel that our school is pretty well informed,” Jones said.
In some cases, locker, backpack or cell phone searches are necessary. In these
situations, the administration actually has more flexibility than police to search the student’s belongings.
Staff authority operates by reasonable suspicion, but law enforcement functions by probable cause, which requires more evidence.
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There is some controversy about what evidence officials should be allowed to use. For example, if school officials are searching for alcohol and found drugs, that evidence could be used against you.
“We don’t look for shotguns in the glove compartment,” school resource officer Deb Funston said.
Funston said the administrative side carries out the majority of the searches. There are many ways a student can report an incident, including speaking to a staff member or directly reporting to Funston, who tries to keep her office open for students as much as possible. Or crime can be reported anonymously to the Crime Stoppers hotline.
Intimidation often can be a big factor, which is part of the reason the school is considering starting a new program in which students can report to a selected group of trained peers who will know the next step to take.
“It would be nice for situations like when they see an adult that they don’t recognize without a visitor’s pass, and they don’t really think it is a big deal but just want to make sure somebody knew,” Funston said.
Incidents such as Columbine and Platte Valley are reasons to take a more serious look at security, Funston said.
“The next big step for security in the foreseeable future is installing cameras outside the school,” she said.