‘I think it can be eye-opening’: Hutchinson requiring students to appear in court for vaping citations

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HUTCHINSON, Kan. (KSNW) – As the number of deaths and illnesses related to vaping rises, one Kansas school district is cracking down on e-cigarettes.

“I have read that one out of every five kids has one of these things,” says officer Joe Fine, Hutchinson High School school resource officer. “You do the math and that is like 300-350 of things walking around at any point in time.”

There are more than a 1,000 kids that roam these hallways every day at Hutchinson High School.

“I can’t count on both hands and toes how many we have seized and ticketed,” Fine says.

Officer Fine is probably confiscating at least one vape every day.

“That is only the ones we have caught. I could spend all day every day and write 10 (citations),” Fine says.

Fine is adding signage around the school and stepping up efforts to warn high schoolers about the addictive nature of the pens. He says the city is doing even more.

“They are now required to appear in court in front of a judge,” Fine says. “I think that is more of an educational tool to get them in front of a judge and have him explain to them what they are doing is wrong.”

It’s not just vape pens, Fine has already cited at least four students this year for use of a pen with THC. It is a misdemeanor crime, and Fine says they can test the pens with kits they have at the school.

Fine says he just wants the students to live healthy, productive lives.

“I think it can be eye opening for some. That it is a big deal and being in a court setting with a judge,” Fine says.

Municipal court clerks in Wichita say students do not have to appear in court if cited. They only must pay the fine.

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