School comes up clean

Zeus, the Drug sniffing K-9 searches for marijuana.

Tonasket Police Department's former drug dog, the late Zeus, searches for marijuana hidden in the Tonasket Commancheros Rodeo arena for an illustration of his abilities during a fundraiser for the K-9 unit.

TONASKET – Tonasket high school and middle school administrators invited Tonasket Police and other area law enforcement to perform a drug dog sweep of both buildings Wednesday, Nov. 21.

“Everything went smoothly,” said high school principal Brian Ellis. “We got a couple of alerts but didn't find anything.”

The school did not use the “lockdown” process previously employed but are using a new terminology of “Clear the hallways and remain in your classroom until further notice,” instead of calling it a soft lockdown.

“We used the drill we planned on. Staying in class was better so people weren't as concerned,” said Ellis. “We did a lot of pre-loading with it and told the teachers ahead of time that the kids weren't in danger and it was just a drill. I think it relieved a lot of anxiety.”

Ellis sounded relieved no drugs were found.

“Sometimes they alert based on scent, so anything in the student's possession that has a scent on it will alert the dog. Since marijuana is legal now, if a parent smokes it at home, it will have that odor and the dog can hit on it,” said Ellis.

“We were invited over just to do a quick little search. We had been trying to make this happen, but things came up in the schedule,” said Tonasket Police Chief Darin Odegaard, adding he “grabbed Chief Culp from Republic and his dog,” since Tonasket no longer has a drug dog. Chief Loren Culp is a certified handler with the Republic Police Department.

“We ran through the school to do a little courtesy check for them. The dog alerted a couple times, but we didn't come up with any charges against anyone,” said Odegaard.

“It was good news, and it was nice, they really worked together with us to organize a time for it to work for all of us,” said Ellis. “It was a good chance for the dog to work in the school and we are hoping he can come back again consistently. I don't know their schedule, but we hope to work with them again in the future. We would love to have the dog come again and keep helping us to keep drugs out of school.”

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