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HIGH LIFE : Undercover Cops on Your Campus?

March 19, 1988

The eight-week police undercover operation that led to last November's arrest of eight students for selling drugs on the Huntington Beach High School campus was perfectly legal. School officials said they asked the city's police department to conduct an undercover operation similar to one it conducted two years ago at Edison High School, which netted 23 suspects.

While the undercover operations, in which young-looking police officers enroll in school, have identified students who sell drugs and resulted in their arrests, some legal scholars and attorneys said the operations pose serious ethical and moral questions.

Here are some responses to this week's hot topic: "How do you feel about undercover police agents on campus in an attempt to stop the use and sale of drugs?"

"Undercover police agents at school are legitimate and OK if they help stop the drug scene."

--Vicki Kennedy, 17, senior, Dana Hills

"I think it is an effective solution to a current social problem."

--Caine Moss, 16, junior, Dana Hills

"If it takes undercover cops to stomp down on the use and sale of drugs, then I don't see any problem with this method. The only people that have anything against it are the users and sellers."

--Lesley Markle, 16, junior, Garden Grove

"Any lawful action taken to stop the growing problem of drug abuse is worthwhile. Some people feel undercover police violates their freedom, but drug use is illegal and should be dealt with through legal means."

--Heather Harkins, 17, senior, Garden Grove

"Undercover agents should take measures to avoid involving any innocent bystanders into their operations and refrain from methods such as 'entrapment' to subdue dealers."

--Tom Garza, 16, junior, Huntington Beach

"Although I do not use drugs, I feel having undercover narcotic officers on campus is an invasion of my rights and of my privacy. It is a devious and underhanded method of enforcing the law."

--Courtney Terry, 17, senior, Huntington Beach

"It is a good idea if it is actually stopping the use of drugs among teen-agers. However, I feel their efforts should be concentrated on those people who are supplying the drugs to the students."

--Claudia Jereb, 15, sophomore, Huntington Beach

"I have no desire to keep undercover police away from our campus when their only goal is to rid our school of drug contamination. I'd rather attend an institution free from drug problems where the focus could be on education and extracurricular activities. Teen-agers have enough responsibilities and decisions to make without the additional influence of chemical substances."

--Shane Christenson, 16, sophomore, Huntington Beach

"The use of undercover police agents is appropriate in the war against drugs. Drugs have no place on the high school campus, nor anywhere else. The use of undercover police agents can only help to solve the problem of drug abuse on campus, and certainly cannot be as disruptive as the substance abuse itself."

--Simon Kingston, 16, junior, Laguna Hills

" '21 Jump Street' is a neat show, but this is real life. I have to be skeptical in believing its (undercover police agents) effectiveness."

--Denis Faye, 17, senior, Laguna Hills

"It is completely immoral. Granted, some students obtain or keep drugs at school; however, the larger percentage of the students don't even do drugs much and less of them have them on campus."

--Jeff Santelli, 16, junior, Loara

"Undercover cops should be used to make drug busts. They mix and mingle with students so that students don't know there's a bust in effect. If students knew about undercover cops, there would be no use for them and the dealer would take his business elsewhere."

--Eddeanne Casares, 14, freshman, Loara

"Considering the present status of drugs on our campuses, undercover agents are justified. But that does not change the fact that we as individuals feel violated. Perhaps extreme measures must be called for, and that frightens me. Teen-agers want to be respected, so it is hard to accept this intrusion. Administration has the right, but that's a hard fact to accept."

--Rachel DeVelder, 16, junior, Lutheran

"I am neutral. I can see how it could help clean up the school, but I would not want somebody spying on me and having the power to ruin a student's reputation and life."

--Alain Dussert, 15, sophomore, Magnolia

"I definitely support putting undercover cops in school. Having no experience with drugs or knowing no one who uses them, I still feel that it's the worst way to ruin someone."

--Anthony Kim, 15, senior, St. Michael's Prep

"It's a shame that our society has pushed our law enforcement to go to such extremes. But if that's what it takes to stop the drug abuse, then I support it as long as there are no violations in our (students') constitutional rights."

--Dave Hornung, 18, senior, Servite

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