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School drug sweeps come up clean

SALEM — Drug sweeps at both Salem and West Branch high schools and junior highs on Wednesday morning yielded no drugs.

“We didn’t find anything. There was nothing in the school or the cars,” Salem Police Chief J.T. Panezott said regarding the Salem search.

Police converged on the school on East Sixth Street to take part in a state-required lockdown drill and decided it was a good day to also conduct the drug sweep since several K-9 teams were training in Columbiana County on Wednesday. The teams also traveled to Beloit for the sweep at West Branch, where there were a couple indications of contraband, but nothing illegal recovered.

According to West Branch School Resource Officer Anthony Pilolli, who’s with the Goshen Police District, the sweep conducted around 9 a.m. included the high school and middle school hallways as well as the student parking lot. He said there was one hit in the parking lot and a couple in the high school hallways, but no illegal items were found.

Pilolli said the sweep included five K-9 officers from Salem, Columbiana, East Liverpool and the Columbiana County Sheriff’s Office. Those were the same teams who conducted the search at Salem.

Panezott said police and the K-9 teams searched the high school, middle school and parking lot at Salem, including the lockers and bookbags and vehicles.

“Thanks to the administration, staff and students for their cooperation,” he said.

What impressed him the most was how quickly they can go into lockdown mode and clear the hallways. He said the teachers and students do a fantastic job.

“It’s unfortunate that we have to do these drills but it’s nice to know that everyone takes it seriously,” Panezott said. “I can’t say enough about our good working relationship with the school system.”

Information about the school lockdown drill and drug sweep was posted on the Salem Police Department’s social media page after-the-fact.

(Staff Writer Kevin Howell also contributed to this report)

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