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Yukon Police officer poses as high school student

YUKON, Okla. (AP) _ A police officer posed as a student at Yukon High School for much of the past nine months as part of a drug investigation that resulted in three arrests.

Andy Henderson, 26, posed as an 18-year-old high school senior. His cover story was that he lived alone in an apartment rented by his father, who lived in Texas. He told everyone a judge ordered him to stay out of trouble and not to have visitors.

He was not allowed to play sports, date students, carry his police-issued weapon or attend parties. He met with students only a few times outside school.

``It's really hard,'' Henderson said. ``There's such an integrity thing to this job (as a police officer). And just me personally not wanting to lie. Everything I was doing was a story.''

He sat through classes including English, geography and zoology classes.

The undercover operation was exposed March 1 when three students were arrested on complaints of drug-related activity. The students allegedly were seen under surveillance producing large quantities of marijuana on several occasions, state Bureau of Narcotics spokesman Mark Woodward said.

The operation was devised by Police Chief Ike Shirley, who said the school needed to be spared from a repeat of two drug overdoses last year.

Henderson looks young. To fit in, he had to turn in homework and pass tests just like everybody else.

``One thing that amazes me is that kids will say anything in a classroom,'' Henderson said. ``They would talk about parties, alcohol use and some drug use where everyone in class could hear it.

``They have no reservations speaking about it in class. I heard very little about prescription drug use. I'd say 95 percent was all about marijuana,'' he said.

Just one school staff member knew his true identity. That person will remain anonymous, he said.

Henderson said he won't forget one Yukon teacher's efforts. The teacher said she saw his potential and told him she desperately wanted him to excel -- unaware that he graduated from Duncan High School in 1996.

``On more than one occasion, she had kept me after class or caught me before class to bring up the fact I needed to devote myself more to my studies to prepare myself for college,'' Henderson said.

``I tried to, in a roundabout way without divulging any information, to tell her not to worry about it. 'Spend more time worrying about the other students,''' he told her.

His response and the fact the teacher knew he lived alone landed him on a suicide watch list, he said.

``I didn't know how else to tell her without divulging that I was a cop,'' he said.

Only one of the three students arrested has been identified. Gregory Allan Smith, 18, is scheduled to appear today in Oklahoma County District Court on three felony counts of distribution of marijuana and on felony distribution of a controlled dangerous substance within 2,000 feet of a school. He is free on $35,000 bail.

Police said they turned over two others, ages 17 and 16, to authorities at the Gary E. Miller Children's Justice Center near El Reno.

Henderson has since been placed back on patrol duty.
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