Private Prison Company Used in Drug Raids at Public High School
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According to POST Executive Director Lyle Mann, POST provides two types of certification: standards and training certification for "peace officers," and standards and training certification for correctional officers. Arizona Administrative Code mandates that ADC officers be POST certified. However, according to Mann, employees of private prison contractors are exempt from this standards and training requirements. As such, said Mann, no CCA employee is POST certified -- as either a "peace officer" or a correctional officer.
It is important to note that Arizona Administrative Code explicitly states that non-regular "peace officers" -- secondary parties engaging in certain limited aspects of law enforcement under the command/supervision of regular peace officers -- must also be POST certified.
According to Arizona Administrative Code, a "limited-authority peace officer" is defined as "a peace officer who is certified to perform the duties of a peace officer only in the presence and under the supervision of a full-authority peace officer." The Code goes on to state that duties which may be performed by a "limited-authority peace officer" in the presence of a "full-authority peace officer" include: "investigative activities performed to detect, prevent, or suppress crime, or to enforce criminal or traffic laws of the state, county, or municipality."
This definition seems to fit the description -- with the exception that CCA employees aiding CGPD "peace officers" are not POST certified -- of what occurred at Vista Grande High School on the morning of October 31, 2012.
According to Officer Anderson and Principal Hamilton, the raid was organized and conducted at Hamilton's request.
"We need to keep drugs off our campus," said Hamilton when asked why he requested the raid. "We wanted to make sure our campus . . . we wanted to send a message to kids that we don't want that stuff on our campus."
Hamilton stated that, outside from this desire to send a "message to kids," he had no knowledge of any particular drug use problem on his school's campus.
CGPD then issued a request for assistance to what it considered to be other local law enforcement agencies -- including CCA.
According to Anderson, CCA provided two canine units (handlers and dogs) to aid in the high school "drug sweep." These CCA canine units worked under the command of the lead CGPD canine unit.
According to Anderson, there is no contract or formal agreement for such services extant between CGPD and CCA. Rather, said Anderson, CCA simply agreed to participate in the raid when approached by CGPD "K-9" officers. Anderson stated that he does not know whether CGPD ever contacted POST-certified correctional canine units at either of the two nearby ADC-operated prisons.
As to the general role canine units play in such school "drug sweeps," Anderson stated that the dogs and their handlers are typically utilized to detect the presence of illicit materials in classrooms and school parking lots.
This activity, as was conducted by CCA employees, would seem to fall squarely under the Arizona Administrative Code description of duties performed by "limited-authority peace officers" -- officers who may perform "investigative activities" for the purpose of detecting, preventing, or suppressing criminal activity, and who are only authorized to do so while in the presence of "full-authority peace officers," such as CGPD. Such "limited-authority peace officers" are required to be POST certified.
Regardless, according to both Anderson and Hamilton, this type of activity has been going on for years in Pinal County.
According to Anderson, a similar "drug sweep" -- utilizing CCA canine units -- was conducted at Casa Grande's Union High School in 2011. Anderson has been unable to provide further details relating to this event.