Some students at a northern Kansas high school might be feeling a little paranoid after a 22-year-old police officer spent nearly a month posing as a senior and gathering information about drug trafficking.
Concordia High School Principal Quentin Breese declined to release the names of any students who might be in trouble, but said there would be consequences for some involved in drugs, both on the school campus and within 1,000 feet of a school.
Officer Levi Herring enrolled in the school as a part-time student under the assumed name of Tom Anderson and started classes Jan. 7. He left Feb. 6, the same day that a protection from stalking order was filed in Cloud County District Court against Concordia Police Chief Chris Edin, who resigned this week.
Breese said he didn't know if the chief's problems had anything to do with the undercover operation ending, but he said it was apparent through his discussions with police that Herring's real identity had been discovered.
“We were told by the police department that it involved security being breached because somebody Googled him,” Breese said.
School district officials sent a news release out Feb. 7 saying the operation was devised a year ago when the police department invited school officials to help place an officer in the high school “to collect information regarding drug traffic with a goal to identify local sources of drugs in the community.”
Superintendent Bev Mortimer said the district has only one police officer to cover three schools and an alternative working center.
“We saw this as an opportunity to increase the security in our high school,” she said. “We realized it was going to be a temporary situation. There was no set time period for this operation.”
Only Breese, Mortimer and assistant high school Principal Bryce Wachs knew of the operation, Breese said.
“We know there is drug activity. The site council has talked about it. Parents have talked about it,” he said.
Breese said Herring was an active participant during school days and lunch, but wasn't seen much around school activities.
Angela Mares, 18, said she remembered Herring – who she now knows as a police officer – once attended a state government class with her during the first hour of school, but they never spoke.
The senior said some students didn't care much for their new classmate.
“One of the kids wanted to punch him and beat him down,” Mares said. “He just was, like, staring at them. He was trying to talk to them and find out stuff, I guess.”