The sight of Marion Police Department’s drug-sniffing dog, Legion, with officer Mike Stone and canine teams from other out-of-county departments last week was a familiar one for students.
As canine teams had done before, they walked the hallways and grounds as part of routine training to keep drug dogs’ sleuthing sniffers sharp.
But unexpectedly, the “free air sniff” became all business when Legion and the drug dog posse detected something in a student’s car parked in 100 block of Lincoln St.
“All four canines indicated on the vehicle,” Marion chief Tyler Mermis said.
Random canine team training exercises take place in Marion “as often as they want, could be every month, every two months,” Mermis said.
The owner of the vehicle, presumably a parent of the driving-age student, was contacted before a search that allegedly discovered .5 grams of marijuana, a marijuana pipe and grinder, and an open bottle of beer, according assistant chief Clinton Jeffrey’s police report.
USD 408 has an open invitation to Marion police when it comes to drug education and enforcement, Superintendent Lee Leiker said.
“We have a very open policy that we don’t accept drugs and alcohol in our schools,” Leiker said. “We tell students that the police are allowed to come almost anytime unannounced. All we ask is that their training doesn’t interfere with our schedule, like on state testing dates. Marion police are usually good about letting us know when they are planning to do one.”
He said the school welcomes the training exercises.
“It helps train police dogs and it also publicly promotes that we want to be a drug- and alcohol-free school,” Leiker said.
The building principal will largely determine discipline at school, he said, and could possibly involve some type of suspension.
Had school officials discovered the substances, Leiker said the district’s policy is to contact parents and law enforcement.
Because the case involves a juvenile, Mermis said the case was sent to Marion County Attorney’s Office for prosecution.