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Resident Advocates for Township Drug Detection Dog

Committeeman Sean Sharkey in communication with police chief regarding the possibility of a K-9 purchase

Education and a dog could be the key to combating the drug problem in Lacey, resident Jim Letellier told the township committee.

As a retired Lacey police officer and a former member of the Board of Education, Letellier sees the drug problem as rampant. Back when he was on the board, 10 percent of the student population in high school were getting drug tested or had been caught.

“The amount of crimes that’s related to drugs and the amount of drug use that goes on in this town is getting worse,” he said. “For too many years, too many people kept their head in the sand because they didn’t want it to get out that there’s a drug problem.”

According to the high school’s report card, there were 14 cases of students caught with drugs last year, he said. But when the students are caught in school, the incident goes unreported.

“I can guarantee you it’s over 200,” he said. “I’m standing here and I’m backed up because I know what the statistics were when I was on the school board. A drug dog is a very valuable tool to help you combat this.”

Letellier is asking the township committee to consider purchasing a K-9 for narcotics detection and says the move is “long overdue.”

“I personally lost a brother due to drugs,” he said. “I’m telling you, it’s a tool that is valuable to law enforcement.”

In October, as to why they do not participate in K-9 searches.

“The incidents of controlled dangerous substances (CDS) have gone up,” Risoli said. “In this town, like every other town, things have to be done to keep things in control.”

Then Superintendent Richard Starodub said the school district’s relationship with the police department is solid. Lacey was the first school district in Ocean County to promote K-9 searches in the early ‘80’s.

Since then, rules surrounding searches and the use of dogs have changed, he said. A group of superintendents throughout the county made former county superintendent Bruce Greenfield aware of their interest in resuming K-9 searches.

On occasion, the district has worked with the county sheriff’s department to conduct training exercises in the schools, Starodub said. The last search was a couple years ago.

There were discrepancies surrounding when and how a K-9 dog could be used. According to a court ruling, K-9’s cannot be used to directly search the students, Letellier said. However, the dogs can be used to search locations throughout the schools and the air.

The township agreed that Lacey is facing a serious drug problem. “We all know there’s a drug problem in Lacey. There’s a drug problem in Bayville, a drug problem in Stafford, the whole country,” Mayor Mark Dykoff said.

In 2011, Committeeman Sean Sharkey and Dykoff were approached by a veterinarian based out of Whiting who offered free services if the township purchased a dog. Sharkey has spoken to Chief William Nally on this subject and plans to discuss it with him again in the upcoming weeks.

“So we are actually trying to get a dog,” Sharkey said. “Whether it’s designated as a drug dog or a multi-purpose dog, we’re still in the very early ages.”

Sharkey is also aware of outside funding that could help cover the costs.

Committeeman David Most, on the other hand, disagrees that a K-9 unit would be all that helpful.

“As far as the dogs being in the schools when the kids aren’t around but what kind of teeth is that?” he said. “I’m working hard with my avenues at the Municipal Alliance.”

“There’s more to be done,” Letellier said. Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) and K-9’s have an incredible success rate.

“As much as when people wanted to make fun of Nancy Reagan’s “say no to drugs,” it works,” he said. “The intent is to be proactive preventative. There are a lot of sources for after the fact. We want to reach them before.”

The Lacey Township School District does not currently use a DARE program.

The school district uses a multi-prong approach with a zero-tolerance policy on drugs, current Superintendent Sandra Brower said. Schools use discipline, counseling, education and outreach and support.

“There is no one solution,” she said. “We understand and accept the reality that this is a problem that needs everyone’s attention. We cannot solve this problem alone and we are not alone in dealing with the problem of substance abuse.”

Just as Lacey schools have worked with local law enforcement agencies using drug detection dogs in the past, the district would be willing in the future, School Board President Jack Martenak said.

Rules and procedures surrounding how and when dogs are used is determined by the agency providing the resources, he said. In the past, the Ocean County Prosecutors Office has coordinated.

“However, I think its important to caution that dogs are not a magic cure, and have limited enforcement value, as seen last week in Lakewood, although they can have a deterrent value,” he said.

The school district will continue to work with local officials, law enforcement and community groups to combat the drug problem in town, he said.

“If drugs are in our schools, then drugs are in our community and everyone must be actively involved in helping kids stay drug-free - whatever it takes," Brower said.

Nally did not return calls for comment.

tr January 31, 2012 at 05:19 PM
If any of the Township Committee members or any of the Board of Education members have their children or spouses, currently attending or employed at any of Lacey Schools, I understand the resistance to the searchs. This problem has to deal with their elected responsibilites to the taxpayers and not their personal liabilty exposure. IF, and I say again "IF" that is the reason for the resistance, their responsibility lies in the comunities best interest and they should voluntarily excuse themselves from those responsibilities. The dogs are limited in their proximity to the children, but not to the grounds or the facilites. Lockdown the kids in the classrooms while the lockers, teachers lockers, parking lots, etc., are searched. Then reasonable search laws should direct law enforcement to those places where further searchs should be conducted.
paddler January 31, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Dave Most and the Municipal Alliance are ineffective; bring in the dog!
Lee Long January 31, 2012 at 06:27 PM
DOVER HAS HAD DOGS FOR OVER 15 YRS, WE DEF NEED A FEW IN LACEY
Cognizant Citizen January 31, 2012 at 06:53 PM
As others have said the prescription pill problem is a big one not only in Lacey but everywhere. I honestly feel that nothing can be done except really educate future children about the dangers. Prevention is the only answer. Once you are on these pills there is no turning back. When is the last time you heard a successful recovery story....never. Rehab is a waste of taxpayer money. The presciption drug industry is not slowing down anytime soon so sit back and enjoy the spiral.
Cognizant Citizen January 31, 2012 at 06:56 PM
.I attended LTHS when they brought the dogs through the school...it was very effective. If they did that today it would be a fiasco, assuming of course that the dogs can sniff out the pills, which I don't know if they are able to do. Maybe someone could anwer that question for us. They would end up pulling 100 kids out of the classrooms for interogation. Weed and other conventional drugs, with the exception of herion, are not the problem here, prescription drug abuse is. If you polled current high school drug users I bet they would state that weed is a waste of their time, a last resort! Those opposing the dogs have already run the scenario out and made a descision that it won't do any good based on this. What do they say to the papers when 10,000 pills are confiscated in a single sweep. What happens if half the kids pull out prescriptions for the pills? Are they going to expell and force rehab on an 1/8 of the high school population? How much is that going to cost!?!? Who is going to follow them around and make sure they are not smoking their valid prescription medication.
Tim O'Connor January 31, 2012 at 09:20 PM
I want to stress again, the real problem with the drug epidemic is the lack of motivation on the part of the students to work on building a future for themselves. The current one size fits all education Obama and the NJ BOE social experiment has not worked. Making criminals out of our next generation is not the solution. A drug dog is nothing more than a short term fix. We need to address the big picture here. Let's inspire the next generation, not beat them into submission!
paddler January 31, 2012 at 10:01 PM
I don't think think a K-9 is beating them into submission. I agree that something needs to be done for the 6 -9th grade kids - rec sports fade away at that age for the ones who aren't committed to a sport. Lacey schools (k-4) and rec programs - and parental involvement - are great until Mill Pond age. When they need it the most, we don't give the majority of kids anything to do. T@Tim O'Connor - that lack of motivation you talk about begins at that age. If a drug dog is a short term fix, we really need it. There needs to be more enforcement and consequences for underage drinking and drugs in this town.
Tim O'Connor January 31, 2012 at 11:35 PM
This in my opinion is only a short term fix. Enforcement is an effective tool for controlling. Control is not a long term fix. The best solution is to replace a bad habit with something that stimulates the mind. Face it the kids in town are bored. They are tought to not keep score and not to chase after dreams. Everyone is equal. I feel we need to take some responsibility for the current epidemic and address it at the source.
Grime February 01, 2012 at 12:15 AM
Funny,I know some really screwed up parents,and there very engaged with there kids.. Because the kids are GETTING THE WEED AND PILLS FOR THE PARENTS! WTF?
Grime February 01, 2012 at 12:21 AM
We need a town councel k9 that sniff"s out curruption!
paddler February 01, 2012 at 02:43 AM
Did you just say anything new? Because I didn't hear it. I gave an example of where I think the long term problem should be addressed . - the problem is both current and pending. we should address both.
TRM February 01, 2012 at 12:40 PM
I did a little research on this subject and what I found out was incredible. Because of the restrictions that law places on the use of Dogs. This may become impossible to implement. 1. The request has to go up the ladder from the BOE – to PD- to the prosecutor’s office.( any of which can say no ) 2. The dog cannot have any contact with the students. What that means is that that can only go in before or after school or you have to lock down the school for about three- four hours. They sent the dog’s into Lakewood High school (kids weren’t there) and the dogs didn’t find a thing. The second part of this is the handler gets extra pay and time off. They also get special training. There is the cost of the dog and its training and for those of us that have dogs the veterinarian bills aren’t exactly cheap.
tr February 01, 2012 at 04:35 PM
TRM- You may be right, but, you are still WRONG. Your negativity and embracement of the status quo is EXACLY what the DO NOTHING Township Committee and Board of Education wants all US SHEEP to believe. Try being creatively positive rather than negative and accepting the fact that YOUR TOWN has a substance abuse problem that can be solved. There is and are "more than one way to skin a cat". Come up with some POSITIVE ideas, now that you know the law, and give them to the elected officials, in a public format, so they can't hide your suggestions. Everyone took home their "stash" in Lakewood the day of the raid, probably tipped off by elected officials who did not want to look bad or were protecting friends, employees, or relatives. To accept defeat is cowardly, be altruistic, brave, and vocal rather than let our VILLAGE drown in this filthy pool of apathy!!!!
TRM February 01, 2012 at 05:58 PM
tr- Lacey has had a drug problem since they caught the chief of police dealing cocaine back in the 70's. It has to start and stop with the parents. What need to do is stop passing the buck to big brother to solve our problems. We must solve them ourselves and that starts in the home - knowing who and where your kids are, make sure that there in the house when you say they should be etc... Not hard to say but very hard to do. Toms RIver has had dogs for years and from what I am told the drug problem there is worst than Lacey. If i thought the Dog would work I would lead the charge
tr February 01, 2012 at 09:23 PM
TRM- So, by your own admission, since the 70's you have given up all hope and decided that the town is not worth fighting for??? What or who are you afraid of??? I say think outside the box you are hiding in and formulate new methods of attack. Learn from the past, don't live in it!!!! The dogs find the drugs, the judge orders the ankle braclets for the kids and the parents, and the drug testing is random, or go sleep with Bubba in East Jersey State. Not nice, just effective and mean!!! Nice guys finish last. Get more vocal, be fearless, never accept defeat.
johnny d February 01, 2012 at 10:26 PM
lets ban drano too
LT Guy February 02, 2012 at 08:16 PM
Hey, worse case scenario, Dave Most can bring the dog to the Senior Luncheons that are given by the Municipal Alliance (yeah, we have a lot of senior drug addicts) so the dog can do tricks and entertain instead of listening to the Township Committee sing!!
JOHNNY Done it February 03, 2012 at 04:10 AM
Nice name ..pretty original
JOHNNY Done it February 03, 2012 at 04:14 AM
Time to bring the dog in school during school hours not when it is closed ..Schools policy is like toilet paper .There is more drugs than ever (the school board needs to wake up from their sleep) If they were effective The high school wouldnt be called Heroin High Duh
JOHNNY Done it February 03, 2012 at 04:23 AM
The law helps the criminal I think we all went to high school & came in contact with someone who has dealt with drugs ..They dont leave it in the locker overnight ,It doesnt make them money when they are home.. It is easier to make the transfer in a crowd & deal with multiple people..I hope these people didnt pay for there college education on the board,,They should get there money back..When one of there kids OD or a realitive of theirs Make sure they stand up & take the credit for doing nothing
JOHNNY Done it February 03, 2012 at 04:33 AM
I agree I think dave Most is against getting the PD new vehicles & officers but giving them 10 speed bikes to increase reponse time so we dont offend anyone by arresting them,,Think of them reponding from police HQ to FOHO on bike by time they get there The problem would be gone...LOL
JOHNNY Done it February 03, 2012 at 04:43 AM
according to the school super Them & the Pd have have a solid relationship..The school board says nothing the PD does nothing...Time to start replacing people..This people in this positions are clueless or trying to protect someone The BOE is in denial or cant see it from my house disease...
JOHNNY Done it February 03, 2012 at 04:49 AM
I agree 100% If you against it you are part of the problem or hiding something .Lockem down & let the dog do its thing & he goes were ever the trail leads him .You have nothing to worry about ,if you are not doing anything wrong.
Joe Stewart February 06, 2012 at 05:02 PM
Bottom line, If your not doing anything wrong.....why would you care.
M'Linda Kula February 07, 2012 at 12:08 AM
@ Patricia Doyle. I agree with your post. My question is, WHY DID nally FAIL to comment on such an important topic, the children! Remember the meeting at the Lacey Library on Tuesday at 7:30 pm with Committeeman Sean Sharkey and Committeewoman Helen Dela Cruz. Maybe Mr. Letellier will show-up and give the people the benefit of his police training.
M'Linda Kula February 07, 2012 at 12:15 AM
@ Patricia Doyle: You post truth, laced with kindness. May I suggest parents go to their family doctor and request a drug test OR Rite Aid / Walmart / Walgreens etc., has drug testing kits.
M'Linda Kula February 07, 2012 at 12:25 AM
@ Tim O'Connor and Pat: The citizens of Lacey, as a community will solve the drug problem when they DEMAND a FEDERAL PROBE into WHY the drug problem is at the level that our grade school children are now at risk. Call: FEDERAL DEA # 202-307-4000. Give these trained agents the location of any METH LABS /DRUG HOUSES etc. * When the children see their parents fighting for them, they may start fighting for themselves.
M'Linda Kula February 07, 2012 at 12:37 AM
@ Randy Daytona: Mr. Dave Most and about 78 other citizens know about the meth lab on Nautilus, next to a military family. WHY is this criminal activity still going on? Concerned citizens have been reporting this location for over 3 years now! The Lacey police dept. does NOT respond to this specific location! I questioned who was related to the meth lab operators!
M'Linda Kula February 07, 2012 at 01:01 AM
@ Johnny Done it: The school board IS aware of the level of their school's drug problem! The question which needs to be addressed is, WHO ON THE SCHOOL BOARD IS RELATED TO MEMBERS OF THE LACEY POLICE DEPT. and let the list include, those by marriage as well. Replace BOTH groups and YOU CAN TAKE BACK YOUR TOWN while saving the lives of your children. ***BRING IN THE DOGS*** NOW ! CHILDREN ARE DYING.
JOHNNY Done it February 08, 2012 at 09:00 PM
To. mLindaKula..I agree with you 100% thats why they have a great relationship according to the school super..also Mr stewarts comment no need for resistance if your not doing anything wrong or involved...is correct..so lets see who is resisting..

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