Narcotics leave tracks for investigation

A new face will soon be appearing at PHS — one with a long snout, yellow fur and whiskers.

This face belongs to Timber, a yellow lab that is part of the K-9 unit within the Puyallup Police Department. Timber is a narcotics dog that will be conducting drug searches.

Sergeant Dan Pashon is with the Puyallup Police Department and supervises Timber.

“Timber can detect and his currently trained on marijuana, which is illegal in school, cocaine and methamphetamine,” Pashon said. “He is trained on those items which are the most common drugs.”

The police department was notified by school administration in hopes of being able to receive visits from a drug dog. While PHS is not the first Puyallup School District school to be visited by a drug dog, it is the first within Puyallup city limits to be searched — others have been outside of the city limits and searches were conducted by the Pierce County Sheriff.

“There was interest from the school administration about it. Right now with the Puyallup School District, part of the schools are [either] in the city of Puyallup or in the Pierce County Sheriff’s jurisdiction,” Pashon said. “The sheriff’s department has been doing it for quite some time and it sounds like the school district wanted to get even keel so they provided the same type of service across all the schools.”

Vice principal Eric Fredericks is part of the administration planning the visits from Timber and hopes to see him come sometime this year.

“[Timber] will be here for a meet-and-greet but kids will be ready to know that when Timber is at PHS from here-on-out, it is for the purpose of discouraging the possession of drugs here on campus,” Fredericks said. “At some point shortly thereafter we will have some drug sweeps in which we will go into classrooms. We will not search people — Timber will not seek any individual out — but we will do a sweep of possessions and we will act accordingly based on what the dog finds.”

Still, you may see Timber on campus while he is not performing drug sweeps as a reminder to students that the threat still looms.

“Thereafter [the sweeps], we will do additional sweeps but also we will just have Timber on campus from time-to-time. Just the fact that Timber is here is a visual for people [to think] ‘Hey, I do not want to have this stuff on me or it should not be at school’ in hopes that we can deter the number of people that might be bringing that stuff on campus,” Fredericks said. “I am interested to see how well it works here; I know it has been successful at the other high schools.”

Students should understand that after the first meet-and-greet, Timber is here for a job, not for a personal visit.

“Timber is a narcotics dog, he is not a patrol dog — he is not trained in master protection or making contact with people. His job is detection of narcotics,” Pashon said. “Like with any dog, if you want to know about the dog you can talk to the handler before you touch the dog or do anything around the dog. Ask the handler if it is okay.”

So if you want to pet Timber, should you ask permission to find out if you can?

“Correct. That’s the best thing with any dog, even if you were at the park and saw somebody with a dog,” Pashon said. “You always want to ask the handler or the owner, ‘is it okay if I pet your dog?’ because they know their animals a lot better.”

The problem of drugs does not lie completely in PHS: many other schools also have students that actively use drugs.

“Honestly I think [drugs] are a problem at any high school. Kids are going to use drugs all the time and I think that they do not realize how much damage they are doing to their body and what the long-term effects are going to be,” junior Hunter Hamilton said. “They do not realize that, just because they want a short-time high, the effects of it can last forever, especially depending on what drugs you use.”

Pashon believes bringing Timber to PHS could be a positive thing for the school.

“Narcotics have no place in any schools—schools are there for a learning environment and that is what we want to do, provide this learning environment,” Pashon said. “Getting drugs out of schools gives people the ability to do that and learn without the interference of narcotics.”

Timber is coming to help reinforce the idea of schools being a safe, drug-free environment and the harmful effects drugs can have on people.

Pashon believes there is one thing that everyone student should know about Timber coming to conduct these drug sweeps.

“We are there for your safety and to provide you guys with a safe environment,” Pashon said. “We are just trying to help make PHS a better place.”