A 15-year-old Riverside boy was charged with possession of cannabis on school grounds after police and drug-sniffing dogs swarmed Riverside-Brookfield High School on Jan. 29 during an unannounced sweep of the campus.
With Riverside police – from patrolmen to the deputy chief – guarding exits to the school, officers from the Cook County Sheriff’s Department, Cicero, Berwyn, LaGrange, Bridgeview, Oak Lawn, Markham, Darien, Lemont and the Illinois State Police entered the building just after 9 a.m. and swept hallways, locker rooms and classrooms for evidence of illegal drugs.
Weitzel said that 18 drug-sniffing dogs cruised the school, completing the sweep during one 50-minute class period.
According to Weitzel, the exact date of the sweep was known only to Interim Superintendent David Bonnette until this morning. Previously, police worked with other administrative staff, including Interim Principal Tim Scanlon and assistant principals John Passarella and Troy Gobble, on how to assist police during such searches. Weitzel said the administrators were told the search could come on any one of four days, but wouldn’t know the exact day until the morning of the search.
This is the first school-wide drug sweep since May 2006. A Brookfield girl was arrested for possession of cannabis as a result of that search.
Weitzel said that police tightened security regarding advanced knowledge of the sweep after he received anonymous phone calls from parents, who said their students knew of the 2006 search ahead of time.
“We told the superintendent it would be one of four days, and he agreed to that to keep as much integrity for the narcotics search as possible,” Weitzel said.
The sweep had been in the planning stages for two months, Weitzel said, and came at the request of RB’s interim superintendent, David Bonnette, who said he was pleased with the results of the sweep and with the message the school was sending to students about keeping the school free of illegal drugs.
“I would be remiss in not complimenting all of our students to go through a sweep and detailed investigation like this, and [to] have only one student, who happened to be a freshman, identified, speaks volumes, I believe, for the other 1,455 kids who are in attendance here,” Bonnette said.
“When you have three dozen police officers going through the building, standing at every exit with 18 trained dogs and their handlers, it certainly does also deliver a message that we are very serious about this goal.”
Bob Skolnik contributed to this report.