Back when Johnny Depp played an undercover cop on 21 Jump Street, it seemed that gangs were the big problem in schools. Depp's character regularly infiltrated some murder-hungry group with the intention of bringing them down from the inside.
It's hard to argue against cops in schools when it comes to them breaking up murder plots. But when Palm Beach County police revealed a major undercover sting operation last week, the target was very different: weed.
"Operation D Minus" put a fresh-faced rookie cop in three high schools, where she collected evidence that led to the arrest of 30 people, most fellow students who, the undercover cop says, brought
up pot sales to her in school. The ridiculously named operation is expected to continue another year with other undercover cops.
And that's frightening to some rights organizations, who have complained about the idea of undercover cops in schools. The ACLU has developed suggested rules governing cops in schools, arguing, among other things, that students shouldn't be arrested in school.
"It's scary. You have nonstudents, nonteachers sneaking around talking to kids," the ACLU's Jennifer Shaw told the Seattle Times after a similar undercover operation in Washington state. "Our kids should be sent to school to learn. To bring somebody in to do an undercover investigation is frightening."
Sure, the idea of narcs in school is far from a new concept. But busting kids for pot in South Florida is like catching jaywalkers on Clematis Street. We are a state, after all, where a majority of us think medicinal marijuana ought to be legal. More kids smoke weed than cigarettes, according to the federal government, so those 30 kids busted in Operation D Minus are likely not some 21 Jump Street-style weed gang flashing guns.
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As part of "Operation D Minus," the undercover cop reportedly tried to blend in, even getting a serenaded offer to the prom. If the undercover cops who are continuing the mission really wanted to fit in and find out about some serious crimes, they should probably start hitting the bong.