Port St. Lucie third grade teacher had heroin capsules, syringes in his classroom, police say

Posted at 11:00 AM, Jan 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-10 23:54:11-05

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- A third grade teacher in Port St. Lucie was arrested at his school for possession of drug paraphernalia.

Port St. Lucie Police arrested 27-year-old Patrick John McLaughlin on two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia after two syringes and two used heroin capsules were found in his possession.

Police received an anonymous tip through Treasure Coast Crime Stoppers of potential drug-related activity involving a third grade teacher at Renaissance Charter School at 300 NW Cashmere Boulevard.

In response to the tip, police met with McLaughlin on Monday, January 9, 2017 at the school. Detectives searched his car parked on campus and no illegal drugs were found.

Detectives say they then searched McLaughlin's classroom desk and found a used heroin capsule. Detectives say they also found a used heroin capsule in the trash can under the same desk and two syringes in his pants pocket.

"You have the heroin caplets that, they're empty for the most part, but there's trace evidence of the heroin in there, it's in the garbage can, and you know how kids are," said Master Sergeant Frank Sabol. "They explore sometimes, you know. We felt that it was pretty dangerous for that type of drug to be on campus, and for him to have brought it in there is a little disheartening for us. We're just lucky nobody got hurt in the situation."

McLaughlin was arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia and booked into the St. Lucie County Jail.

McLaughlin had been arrested for Possession of Heroin and Use or Possession of Drug Paraphernalia in Martin County in November. According to the Martin County Sheriff's Office, McLaughlin said he had a different profession at the time he was booked in the Martin County Jail.

A MCSO spokeswoman says often, if a teacher is arrested on a felony charge, a law enforcement agency will alert school officials out of courtesy. It is not required, however.

The spokeswoman says in McLaughlin's case, deputies weren't aware he was a teacher at the time of booking, and he was arrested in a different county than he works in, which can complicate the process.

A spokeswoman for Renaissance Charter School says the school was unaware of McLaughlin's November arrest until police came to the school Monday.