Cop poses as Seneca Valley student for drug probe


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Beren
June 24, 2005, 01:36 PM
http://post-gazette.com/pg/05175/528053.stm

An undercover Butler County police officer posing as a transfer student at Seneca Valley High School spent two months this year hanging out at lockers, taking tests and living the life of a teen-ager in an attempt expose drug activity on campus, police and school officials revealed at a press conference this morning.

Len Keller, Jackson Township police chief, said in the weeks between the end of February and early May, the undercover officer bought drugs from one adult from Allegheny County who police say is a supplier to students in the district. Police also labeled one student, a junior who is not being identified, as a supplier.

The investigation, which Keller called the first of its kind in Western Pennsylvania, revealed at least 10 people who are connected to either the sale, use or distribution of controlled substances. Slightly more than half of them are Seneca Valley students, he added.

The identities of those involved are being withheld because the investigation is continuing and court cases are pending, the chief said.

The investigation revealed students were using a variety of drugs, including heroin, cocaine, marijuana, LSD and prescription drugs including such pain killers as Tylenol, Oxycontin and Valium.

Keller stressed no drug deals occurred on campus and only a minimal amount of drugs was found to be present on students during school hours.

"I don't think the drug problem at Seneca Valley is any worse than at any other school," Keller said.

Police and school officials began talking about inserting an undercover officer into the high school in January after rumors of heavy drug use on campus and drug trafficking got back to Superintendent Donald Tylinski.

Soon thereafter, the Butler County District Attorney's Office and that office's drug task force got involved, Keller said. Each entity contributed money to the $10,000 investigation.

Tylinski and high school Principal Matthew McKinley were the only officials who knew about the undercover officer's presence in the school.

School board President Dean Berkebile was told about the drug investigation but wasn't given details, Keller said.

Last night, the rest of the district's school board members learned about the extent of the officer's infiltration, Berkebile said.

At that point, "There was unanimous approval for the investigation," he added.

Keller, who called the investigation unique, said the undercover officer was a Jackson Township police officer. He would not say if the officer was a man or a woman and would not reveal an age.

The officer's safety was a consideration when the joint decision to terminate the investigation was made, Keller said.

Keller and Tylinski said the investigation was a success and said they would do it again.

"We broke some ground here and did something unique that I think was very effective," Keller said.

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pax
June 24, 2005, 01:40 PM
Betcha $5 the officer was female. Grown men don't look like high school boys, but an occasional woman can manage to pass as a high school girl.

This caught my eye: The investigation revealed students were using a variety of drugs, including heroin, cocaine, marijuana, LSD and prescription drugs including such pain killers as Tylenol, Oxycontin and Valium.
Presumably they meant the codeine-capped type?

pax

KriegHund
June 24, 2005, 01:40 PM
Drug problems are pretty common here too, sadly :(

I feel sorry for that cop though...

rick_reno
June 24, 2005, 04:00 PM
I hope the officer didn't have to eat the cafeteria food.

thorn726
June 24, 2005, 04:18 PM
pretty funny- who else is hearing the theme song to 21 jump street right now??

so kids might be fooled, i guess- but i wonder how it looks to the teachers- i bet they could tell- the adults probably noticed the acting which would have been interesting to see for sure, an adult cop posed as a teenager- unlike TV they couldnt use a bunch of 18+ kids to pose as highscoolers like in the show, so i bet the difference would be more obvious to older folks watching it (the teachers etc)

SteveS
June 24, 2005, 04:20 PM
Betcha $5 the officer was female. Grown men don't look like high school boys, but an occasional woman can manage to pass as a high school girl.

Have you seen Macaulay Culkin (the Home Alone Kid)? He is in his 20's, but looks like he is 14.

rock jock
June 24, 2005, 04:31 PM
Female cop that looks like a teenager.....handcuffs..........nevermind. :)

Spreadfire Arms
June 24, 2005, 05:26 PM
most officers doing true U/C work will not carry a badge or ID that has their true identity. he/she may have an alias drivers license issued to them showing the age of 16 or 17 or something.

most likely he/she was there for surveillance only and would not make an arrest even for a felony they witnessed as it would blow their cover so they have no need for handcuffs. they may not even be carrying a weapon daily on school grounds unless they were doing something that warranted it (i.e. controlled buy, etc), it would depend on the agency's policy. that would bolster the fact that since no drug buys were done on campus, that perhaps, the officer was unarmed.

U/C cops are hard to spot in schools if the officer looks like they fit in. put some of the young cops in Abercrombie & Fitch clothes and don a pair of flip flops, an .MP3 player, and talk on the phone or text message all day and they fit right in.

pcf
June 24, 2005, 05:37 PM
The investigation revealed students were using a variety of drugs, including heroin, cocaine, marijuana, LSD and prescription drugs including such pain killers as Tylenol, Oxycontin and Valium.

It took 2 months and $20,000 to figure this one out? For $3,956,387 I'll do an in depth investigation of high schoolers and sex.

White Horseradish
June 24, 2005, 06:20 PM
We never thought we'd find a place where we belong.
Don't have to stand alone, we'll never let you fall.
Don't need permission to decide what you believe.

I said jump, down on Jump Street.
I said jump, down on Jump Street.

Your friends will be there when your back is to the wall.
You'll find you'll need us cause there's no one else to call.
When it was hopeless a decision is what you need.

You'd better be ready to, be ready to jump.
21 Jump Street.

Matthew748
June 24, 2005, 06:37 PM
You'd better be ready to, be ready to jump.

You took the words right out of my mouth. I still remember that show too.

Andrew Rothman
June 24, 2005, 06:46 PM
Me too. Gotta see if I can find it on TVLand or something.

[edit: Nope, no reruns right now. The first two seasons are on DVD, but I don't think I want to see it that badly... :) ]

Azrael256
June 24, 2005, 06:55 PM
U/C cops are hard to spot in schools if the officer looks like they fit in. Most kids aren't people watching while they're at school. The U/C cops are. They're easy to pick out if you're paying attention... which most kids aren't... ok, you're right, they're probably pretty much invisible.

We had a gang-related attempted murder involving several students when I was a junior (it happened at the park across the street), so there were a number of police, both uniformed and under cover, hanging around for about three months.

Usually, and I'm not saying this is universal, you can make them if you talk to them for a few minutes. It's not that they don't speak the language, it's that they adapt too quickly to you while you're conversing. If you switch personalities (speak from several different social clique vocabularies) in rapid succession, they'll change their speech quickly to keep up. Only exceptionally bright kids will do that, and the cops aren't normally posing as honor students.

MechAg94
June 24, 2005, 07:10 PM
I wonder how much Tylenol? Doesn't that stuff destroy your liver in large quantities?

Spreadfire Arms
June 24, 2005, 07:18 PM
azrael,

ive never had to work in that U/C capacity (i dont know if you have) so i guess i can't say if it would happen or not, in regards to figuring out if they were older than they appear to be based upon their ability to carry on a conversation, etc. some people can put on a pretty good act.

also from what i've heard from other officers in that U/C capacity is that they set themselves up pretty well. they get a circle of friends who are real HS students, so it is not like they are walking around the school by themselves. i know a U/C female a few years ago who even had a 'family' to go home to (the 'father' was a cop and his wife was the mother who was a civilian LE employee). heck noboby knew the difference.

long-term U/C's may go so far as to hang out at HS hangouts (the mall, movies, etc, all the while doing surveillance) and go to HS activities (football games, dances, etc.)

there was a Chico State (CA) University cop who they moved into a dorm to find out who was doing what in the dorms. problem was, he got too involved and got fired and i think even prosecuted for supplying alcohol to minors....oops.

electrikneon
November 6, 2006, 09:42 PM
So this is a year or so late... but I wikipedia-ed my HS - Seneca - and remembered this whole incident and decided to google it. Can't believe people outside of Pittsburgh even knew about it. The cop was an adult woman who tried to look the stereotypical punk. My friend was the junior who got busted (at the local park, rather than at school). No one even guessed it was happening.

Glad that I haven't heard of any similar cases.

TallPine
November 7, 2006, 06:53 PM
Betcha $5 the officer was female. Grown men don't look like high school boys, but an occasional woman can manage to pass as a high school girl.

Drew Barrymore maybe ....? :D

I wonder if the u/c officer fell in love with one of her teachers ? :p

Beren
November 7, 2006, 06:56 PM
Welcome to THR, Electrikneon. I live in the 'burgh so I tend to post stories that might be appropriate to the forum. I'd forgotten all about this one!

I saw the thread titled and wondered "Gee, huh. Seneca. Drugs...who posted that thread? Wait, I did, what!? Oh, 2005.

carterbeauford
November 7, 2006, 08:39 PM
heroin, cocaine, marijuana, LSD and prescription drugs including such pain killers as Tylenol, Oxycontin and Valium.

Really bad, pretty bad, kinda sorta bad, pretty bad, Tylenol??? really bad, somewhat bad. I expected to see methamphetamine on that list, "relief" might not be the appropriate word, but a meth epedemic is not something that needs to hit this area. I am not a drug expert nor do I play one on TV, this is simply my opinion based on several pharmacology courses.

I live two counties up and do not recall hearing about this last year.

69Chevy
November 7, 2006, 10:18 PM
Betcha $5 the officer was female. Grown men don't look like high school boys, but an occasional woman can manage to pass as a high school girl.

At some of the rougher schools, some students go till they are 21, so it is quite possible to put a young looking 21 year old male cop in. When I went to high school about 3 years ago, drugs were pretty easy to come by. The main things were weed, coke, shrooms, and acid. Never heard of high school kids doing heroin though, that is just scary.

Frog48
November 7, 2006, 11:42 PM
I find it hard to believe that a UC officer wouldnt be noticed. The culture, slang, music, etc of today's 16-18 year olds is very different than when I was that age (I'm 24). I'd have to think that even a younger cop, someone my age or so, would have a very difficult time fitting in.

Also, having an undercover cop enrolled in a high school would be totally pointless unless the cop was able to gain confidence of some of the school's "in crowd" (athletes, preps, etc). The only way the cop is going to discover serious stuff is if they manage to get invited to keg parties and such... I remember when I was in high school, I witnessed some pretty crazy drug use by some of my teammates during parties.

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