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The Daily Tar Heel

Town, ASU Police Join Forces; Drug Charges Swell in Boone

Staff Writer

A recent strengthening in the relationship between Appalachian State University's campus police force and local law enforcement is cleaning up the school's campus and, in the process, littering students' criminal records.

As a result of a recent increase in the cooperation between the ASU campus police force and local authorities, 11 current and former ASU students have been arrested on drug-related charges in the past six weeks.

But the elevated drug patrol on campus is not necessarily a result of students' increased drug use.

"Actually, our (drug) statistics were down last year, but we wanted to make sure there wasn't any prolific use of hard drugs," said ASU Police Chief Gunther Doerr.

Along with marijuana, the recent arrests have uncovered several harder drugs, including cocaine, LSD and Ecstasy.

Bob Shaffer, ASU's associate vice chancellor for public relations, said the presence of outside law enforcement forces is nothing new.

"Our campus forces have been working with local authorities for about five years," said Shaffer. "This is just an extension of what we've been doing during that time."

But the level of cooperation between the different departments is something new.

Doerr credits the recent string of arrests to an improvement in the authorities' communication with each other.

"In the past, the agencies were sort of working in a vacuum," said Doerr. "Now we're sharing information and combining our resources better."

Watauga County Sheriff James Lyons says his department's improved involvement with campus authorities is due to an increase in manpower.

But Shaffer stresses that the tighter relationship between the campus police and local authorities is not an intimidating presence for students.

"It doesn't mean we have police patrols roaming the campus," Shaffer said. "These activities are probably invisible to most people."

Lyons also describes his force's role at ASU as unobtrusive.

"We don't patrol campus; we work hand in hand with (campus police)," he said.

ASU and the surrounding community have resorted to intensified drug patrolling because of the lack of success of previous approaches.

Shaffer said educating students about the negative effects and legal consequences of drug use does not seem to be as effective as actually holding students responsible for their transgressions.

"Our primary methods that we have been employing for some time have been education and awareness," Shaffer said. "But those aren't near as effective as enforcement."

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