Police dog added to increase school safety

Evan Gleason

Adriana Chavira
The Los Angeles Unified School District police dog, Nemo vists campus for the first time on Sept. 26.

New school safety measures have been implemented to Daniel Pearl Magnet High School (DPMHS) this school year, including a search dog that will come to DPMHS to potentially find paraphernalia on campus.

In 2018, 113 people were killed or injured in school shootings and an average of one school shooting occurred every eight days. The Parkland shooting on Feb. 14 2018, that killed 17 people, was a tragic moment which started the movement for anti-guns and to improve school safety. This year, there have been 21 mass school shootings so far, one occurring every 15 days as of Oct. 1

“(The search dog) can help find things that sometimes random searches can’t find,” Principal Pia Damonte said. “Especially now with the high increase of young adults vaping whether with nicotine or with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).”

The new search dog, named Nemo, is from the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Police. The dog will come randomly throughout the school year and go into classes to search students’ backpacks. 

DPMHS has never had a school safety officer and wasn’t given a campus security officer after the Sandy Hook shooting, unlike many other LAUSD schools. The school also has the front entrance of our school unlocked during school hours, along with a back entrance next to the cafeteria. 

LAUSD random searches started in 1993, when a 16-year-old student at Fairfax High School was shot and killed, along with another death a month later on Feb. 22 at Reseda High School. In 2011, LAUSD made random locker, backpack and metal detector searches a mandatory daily policy for middle schools and high schools after two kids were injured at Gardena High School. With there being 485 incidents of gunshots on school grounds from 2013 till now, according to the EveryTown For Gun Safety organization, with 185 deaths including 33 suicides where no one else got hurt, and 371 injuries with 6 of them being self-harm. 

“I believe taking students away from lessons will make them behind,” sophomore William Myers said. “Now they will have to catch up on their own time.”

The LAUSD Board of Education voted on June 18 to eliminate the random search policy because it was deemed ineffective and disruptive to students’ instruction time. As a result of this decision, there was an immediate stop of the policy in 20 LAUSD schools. Random searches in all other schools will formally come to an end by July 2020. LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner must also develop an alternative plan to this policy by July 1, 2020. The random search policies in 2016-2017 did also find 568 weapons including eight rifles/shotguns. 

However, according to Damonte, DPMHS will continue doing these random checks. 

“School should be a place of safety and education,” Damonte said. “It should be a place where people feel safe.”