NORTH HUNTINGDON (KDKA) — About a dozen cell phones were seized from Norwin High School in Westmoreland County students last week.
The confiscation is not related to a bomb threat there earlier this week.
The North Huntingdon Police Department was involved in the seizure, but wouldn’t elaborate on the investigation.
A spokesman for the Norwin School District issued only this statement:
“Norwin School District cannot comment on the specifics of an ongoing police investigation. Those questions now fall under the jurisdiction of the North Huntingdon Police Department.”
The involvement of the police indicates not only the potential criminal nature of the probe, but the complicated legal landscape of cell phone examinations, according to University of Pittsburgh law and technology expert David Thaw.
“If there’s something very, very apparent, they probably can look at it without waiting for a warrant. They’re always safer to wait for a warrant. That makes it much easier,” said Thaw. “If there’s nothing apparent and the school officials turned it over to law enforcement on the grounds of, ‘well, we heard some rumors,’ then law enforcement on the basis of that can conduct an investigation. Whether or not they can search is an unsettled question. We don’t know what the United States Supreme Court would say. But we do know, if they retained the devices, but did not search them until a proper court granted a warrant, that’s the safest course for law enforcement to take.”
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