by Lauren Seabrook
KWCH 12 Eyewitness News
9:23 PM CST, February 13, 2013
In an effort to make Concordia High School safer, the Concordia Police department enrolled an undercover cop, posing as a student, in class. School leaders agreed to play along. High School Principal Quentin Breese says, "We had some activity going on with some of our students and my quest was to try to figure out how to change that."
Classmates knew the cop as Tom Anderson. Senior Angelica Maras says, "He looked like he was a senior in high school with us." Students had no idea the guy sitting next to them was not in class to learn about math or science, he was learning about their lives. Breese says, "He would give us some information and also I would give him information on students if we needed to go that route."
Superintendent Beverly Mortimer says the undercover cop was placed in the high school to "collect information regarding drug traffic with a goal to identify local sources of drugs in the community."
Mortimer says the cop, whose real name is Levi Herring, started school after Christmas break of this year. Police removed him from the school at the conclusion of the investigation on February 6th.
When many students heard the "new kid" was undercover, they were shocked. Senior Rachel Blochlinger says, "I'm surprised and it's going to be a shock to a lot of people, but other than that, I'm not mad about it. They're just doing their jobs."
Breese says keeping the secret was tough, especially from teachers. But he believes the operation was worth it. Breese says, "Any measures that we can take to be proactive, I hope can be supported by the community."
Police told the district the cop found important information that will help reduce the availability of drugs to students. Maras says, "There's some people who do it, I guess, but I feel like it's bigger in other schools." Blochlinger says, "There are problems everywhere. I don't think Concordia is the only place. There's going to be somebody everywhere doing something like that."
Principal Breese hopes students will now think twice before getting involved in illegal activity.
Police told district leaders the undercover operation could have been done with or without the district's permission, but administrators chose to be actively involved.
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