Police Lockdown Schools; Search for Drugs/Weapons

Pennsylvania State Police K-9 Trooper Reed Grenci and his narcotics dog enter Ford City High School yesterday morning during a surprise drug search.

by Jonathan Weaver

Local and state police agencies conducted an illegal substance/weapon search at the four Armstrong School District high schools Tuesday morning.

At 9AM, at least two police agencies at each school entered the facilities with K-9 dogs to search lockers and other student-accessible areas for the items.

All students were held on lockdown within their 2nd period classes at least one hour during the search. No one was reported injured.

At Ford City High School, Pennsylvania State Police K-9 Trooper Reed Grenci, Arnold Police Officer Mike Ondo and their narcotics dogs and Ford City Borough Police searched for a half-hour, but did not find any illegal substances inside the school.

Ford City Principal Michael Cominos and West Shamokin Principal Kirk Lorigan said they received information on the search earlier that morning.

Lorigan said he preferred that method.

“We like to not know, that it would be a surprise for all of us,” Lorigan said. “We believe in bringing in law enforcement to promote awareness and safety of the students and staff.”

No illegal substances were found within West Shamokin, either.

“It was a positive outcome at West Shamokin High School,” Lorigan said.

Cominos said police officers searched student lockers and other various classrooms, but did not find any drugs or weapons.

While those were positive instances, a Kittanning High School student said that several students from their school were escorted out of the building after dogs sniffed their lockers. Unlike the other schools, dogs also reportedly checked a nearby parking lot.

The student wished not to be identified due to not taking part in the search, although confirming she was not found violating school rules.

 “It was pretty serious,” the student said.

It is unknown what was found by McKeesport, Baldwin and Kittanning Borough police officials.

The search was conducted after a request by Armstrong School District administrators, who then contacted proper authorities. Police units were assembled through Armstrong County District Attorney Scott Andreassi’s office.

Lt. Thomas Dubovi of the Pennsylvania State Police directed questions of the events to Andreassi, who was also not available for comment.

Although administrators were not available for comment, a press release was available via the District’s website related to the search.

“Today, the Armstrong School District in conjunction with the District Attorney conducted a lockdown drill and a routine canine search throughout the high school facilities. Please note that this is not in response to an event or threat of any kind, but rather a proactive approach to eliminating unwanted or illegal items in our schools. The District wants to convey a strong message concerning the use or possession of illegal substances or weapons. Throughout the school year, we have been practicing our safety procedures and working in conjunction with our local first responders to review our safety plans,” officials wrote.

Calls to receive information in regards to the Elderton High School search were not returned in time for this edition.

Police officers from Kittanning Borough and other agencies prepare to search Kittanning Sr. High School Tuesday morning. A student reported that substance abusers were found within the school and that they were escorted from the premisis following the search.