Narcotic officers raid Lacey High School

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December 11, 2013 3:48:05 PM PST
As Action News reported last week, Ocean County is experiencing an epidemic of heroin overdose fatalities, 104 so far this year, and that's twice as many as last year.

On Wednesday, police set their sights on young people with a raid at Lacey High School.

"We have the purest heroin and the cheapest heroin. That's a terrible combination," Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato said.

A combination that's led to a record number of overdose deaths this year and the introduction of drug-sniffing dogs in Ocean County schools.

Lacey High School is the latest location, where narcotics officers from several departments and drug dogs were deployed in an unannounced early-morning sweep to locate illegal drugs.

"The dogs are trained to sniff the openings of the lockers and if they get the odor of a narcotic coming from the locker they give what we call a positive indication," Toms River Police Sgt. James Reilly said.

"We're not here looking to put somebody in jail. What we're here for is to find out if there are drugs here and to handle it the right way. And do it early at the beginning so we don't have to deal with it when they're 20 or 28 or later or overdosing to death," Coronato said.

The prosecutor says many drug users start young with prescription pain pills that can cost $20 or $25 a piece then move on to heroin which can be as cheap as $5 a dose.

"It sends a message that we care about what's going on. We care about giving the students the tools to say no," Lacey Township School District Superintended Vanessa Clark said.

Authorities would not reveal if any drugs were located at the school. And although the idea drug-sniffing dogs in schools can be controversial, two women we talked with support it.

"If it saves their lives! I know the privacy act and all that, but if you could save a child's life it's worth it," Jane Orland of Lacey Township said.

"I think anything we do to save the children is wonderful and I'm glad the police are working on the side of helping the children," Charlene Hoverter of Barnegat said.

In an effort to continue the anti-drug effort, a community forum to educate parents is set for 6:00 p.m. Thursday in Manahawkin at the Stafford Township Arts Center.


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