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Police Posing as Students Score 110 Narcotics Arrests

May 23, 1987|CATHLEEN DECKER | Times Staff Writer

A four-month operation by undercover police officers at nine Los Angeles high schools led to the arrests of 110 people--including 73 students--suspected of selling drugs on and near the campuses, the Los Angeles Police Department announced Friday.

Among those taken into custody were a University High School janitor arrested for selling marijuana and three adults who police said were selling cocaine from a home across the street from a Reseda special education high school.

The arrests, which began a week ago and ended Friday night, marked the conclusion of the spring semester's School Buy program, in which undercover officers posed as high school students to purchase drugs.

9 Were Undercover

This semester, nine young officers went undercover at nine Los Angeles Unified School District schools--Palisades, University, Wilson, North Hollywood, Hamilton, Van Nuys, Marshall, Birmingham and Crenshaw.

Assistant Chief Robert Vernon, speaking at a Parker Center press conference, said the officers noted an increased interest in cocaine, particularly the cheaper "rock" variety.

"Marijuana is still the drug of choice; however, cocaine is fast closing on that," he said. "Cocaine is becoming more prevalent, and we found that cocaine was available on seven of the nine school campuses."

Vernon added, however, that the department was buoyed by a continuing trend toward fewer arrests during the semester-long program and a seeming reduction in the overall availability of drugs on campus.

"Our general trend is it looks like we may be starting to get control of this," he said.

Begun 13 Years Ago

When the School Buy program began 13 years ago, officers recorded more than 250 arrests some semesters, but the numbers have been steadily declining. Last spring, the undercover officers made 231 arrests and in fall, 1986, 151 people were taken into custody.

Last fall's operation was marred when eight arrests made by an undercover officer named Sharon Fischer were thrown out after police supervisors determined that she had a romantic relationship with a male student. Fischer, who was subsequently fired, has denied the charges. Vernon said there were no such incidents this semester, nor wa1931501934undercover officers.

Overall, police arrested 73 students and 37 non-students. All but one of the non-students were adults. Eighty-two of the arrests resulted from the sale of marijuana, another 23 derived from cocaine sales, four followed from amphetamine sales and one person was arrested for furnishing marijuana.

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