On Wednesday, a letter to Jewell Elementary School parents left some of them feeling uneasy.
The letter from Bend-La Pine Schools explained that a canvas pouch containing a small amount of controlled substances was accidentally left on school property nearly a month ago after a Bend Police Department K-9 demonstration.
“One of our K-9 teams with a drug detection K-9 was conducting a community engagement event at the school, providing a demonstration of how training occurs with our drug dog, and hid a small scent bag, which contained scent or a small amount of controlled substances, in a pile of leaves in the parking lot area of the school as an opportunity for the dog to try and find…to demonstrate the dog’s skills and training,” Bend PD’s Chief of Police Mike Krantz said.
The K-9 didn’t find the bag, which contained a small amount of heroin.
Officers discovered Wednesday that it was missing from their inventory.
“We believe that it was removed to the yard debris facility,” Krantz said. “Our officers checked the yard debris facility yesterday when they discovered the piece was gone, and they discovered it had already been mulched up and destroyed.
“We strongly believe it’s been moved and destroyed, but out of an abundance of caution, we want to put that information out.”
Jewell Elementary parent Chris Denton said that explanation wasn’t enough.
“I’ve been going out there daily for years now,” he said. “If it had been left out, anybody could have picked anything up. I figured we needed to know more information than ‘we are assuming it’s gone.’ We can’t assume anything.
“I go back to the idea of, what if this was a gun? And what are the protocols that are set up to make sure that this can’t happen again?”
He said bringing controlled substances to school property in the first place was a mistake.
“I expect our police to be smarter than this,” Denton added. “We expect them to do amazing things in amazing circumstances, and most of the time they do. This was, in afterthought, very stupid.”
Another parent, Jennifer Sawyer, said she wasn’t concerned about students getting their hands on the substance.
“I’m genuinely unbothered by it,” she said. “I mean they followed protocol and reached out to the parents and informed parents, so it is what it is…I don’t think the children would know what to do with it if they found it.”
“It seems like they could be a little bit more responsible in making sure they get stuff cleaned up afterwards but you know, mistakes happen.”
When asked if this will change whether K-9 demonstrations happen on school property, Bend-La Pine Schools Director of Safety and Communication Julianne Repman said, “We are continuing to evaluate the situation.”
“In this case there was a failure in procedure for sure, there’s no question of that,” Krantz said. “There is something that occurred there; we’re looking into it through administrative review to understand what happened, why the procedure wasn’t followed and why it failed, and how this item was lost or left.”
Krantz added that the last time they lost a K-9 aid after a demonstration was seven years ago.
“I’ve talked with many K-9 teams around the state,” he said. “I’m familiar with K-9 teams. Aids are utilized frequently for training, it’s a requirement, a mandate.”
“Everyone has policy around how they maintain their aids…sometimes you lose the aid, and that’s when you have to go back and look at your process and understand why and how it happened and make sure you’re accountable to those aids.”