Wauwatosa Police Department Escalates K9 Searches Of Property And Vehicles of High School Students

The Wauwatosa Police Department quietly announced an impending operation’s surge against teenagers. At one of the suburb’s two high schools–Wauwatosa East (Tosa East) — K9 searches of students, and their property will escalate. Officers will also utilize informants and even extend patrols away from school grounds. All for no reason other than to seek out the drug war’s poster-plant, marijuana.

Days ago, students were reputedly emailed a letter from Tosa East’s current School Resource Officer. “Due to increased incidents in students in possession of marijuana on school property”, it reads, “we will be increasing the frequency of K9 searches at Tosa East.”

The dogs will search lockers, classrooms and vehicles parked in the lot and surrounding streets. If a police dog indicates you have drugs in any of those area’s, you and your property will be searched!”.– Officer Morrill, Wauwatosa PD School Resource Officer

Students are thereafter threatened with suspension, expulsion, and even federal charges if caught. The department also wasted zero time in offering the willing money for turning in their classmates. WPD promises any student informant whose claims “leads to an arrest of any crime committed on school property” $50. “You will remain anonymous”, the email reads, “receive cash money and won’t be named in any police reports.”

In a section labeled “facts”, WPD put special emphasis on the vulnerability of the teen’s phones. Students are warned their phones may be seized, searched, and used to arrest “your friends”. Even deleted data or content, WPD states, isn’t safe from being analyzed. Search warrants of the homes of suspected smokers is also mentioned. Lastly, the student body was reminded of how arrests “impact your college and career choices, and financial aid.”

Less than a day later, contributors were tipped off that K9 units were deployed to East for a random sniff of every student. This was reputedly done collectively, with cooperation from school staff.  Information on this is still developing, and an update will be produced when able.

The document was given to contributors by an anonymous Tosa East student. They’d provided it in the hopes that Tosa PD’s quiet abuses may be noticed by others on the outside. Students have come forward before with accounts of questionable arrests, stalking, and surveillance by WPD.

Such reports were gleamed even after the departments teen crackdown from 2012-2014.  Due to the way WPD and the city contained information spread of that operation, very few current students are aware it occurred. Instead, they’re collecting their own stories indicating WPD’s focus on them hasn’t subsided.

 

Tosa PD, Teens, Drugs, And  The Quiet Crackdown

 

Besides this, Wauwatosa’s drug issue’s extend far beyond a herb which is making billions, in some states via regulation and taxation. Milwaukee County as a whole, like much of America, is in the grips of an under-reported opioid epidemic. Wauwatosa isn’t exempt, despite the favorable self-image it prefers. Although some substances, like heroin, have floated about for years, others are unprecedented.

Crack cocaine, for example, was never recorded by WPD SOG (Special Operations Group) until 2012. This was the same year WPD began its forest crackdown of teen’s. Primarily, Tosa PD used cannabis smoking as a pretense to monitor teens and destroy their hang outs.

This occurred regardless of what adolescents were actually doing at that particular time. Many reports collected in the documentary Speak Friend And Enter suggest simply being in certain parks as a teen was enough. One case involved a teen who’d been allegedly jumped by undercover officers simply for building a deadwood fort.

Afterward, each year see’s WPD capture more crack and heroin, and less cannabis. This begs the question of whether these drug surges were fueled by the departments cannabis, and teen crackdown. Did WPD leave a drug vacuum in its jurisdiction which was then filled by new, more dangerous drugs? Substances which, according to WPD’s own annual reports, weren’t recorded previously. What exactly did this operation accomplish? Were there any setbacks, and how costly?

Bringing us back to the original questioning of Tosa East’s uptick in K9 searches.  Is WPD’s interest actually in reducing cannabis use on school grounds, or are there other motives? What intelligence-gathering methods, or technologies, will be utilized against high school kids? Are the rights of teens in general, not just pot smokers, being disregarded by these efforts? What powers does the school district and WPD have to continue these operations after school hours, and off school grounds? All questions Tosa East’s students now ask you to tackle for them.

Click here to view the WPD document sent to Tosa East students

 

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Isiah Holmes

Isiah Holmes is a writer and freelance journalist native to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His writing can be found on Cop Block, The Pontiac Tribune, and The Fifth Column News. Video's produced by Isiah are published under the tag YungCartographer Productions.