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Weapons in Lowcountry schools: How often is it happening?

WCIV

It's a call, text or email no parent ever wants to get: that their child's school is on lockdown because a student has a gun.

But it's a reality.

Many times, such situations turn tragic, but far more often the students are caught or the situations are resolved before turning deadly or violent.

Just this May, police say a teacher spotted what appeared to be a gun falling out of a student's backpack at Stall High school. The school called a Code Red.

"When we get a call that there is even a possible gun in the school we lock it down", says Lt. Kathi Love, the SRO commander at Stall, and an officer for the North Charleston Police Department.

Love says students bring weapons to school for a variety of reasons -- they feel bullied, to show off, to protect themselves or even by mistake.

In the last two school years, Tri-County students brought dozens of weapons to school, including nine firearms.

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BY THE NUMBERS - Weapons confiscated by jurisdiction (July 2015-June 2017)

  • Berkeley County Sheriff Office
    2 firearms, 42 knives/blades
  • Charleston Police Dept.
    4 firearms, 19 knives/blades
  • North Charleston Police Dept.
    5 firearms, 11 knives/blades
  • Summerville Police Dept.
    15 weapons
  • Mt. Pleasant Police
    No data was provided
  • Dorchester County Sheriff's Office
    No date provided

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But these numbers do not give the whole picture.

Often the weapon is not used, but the student can still end up suspended or worse.

So what happens to those students who get caught with weapons in school? Often they wind up facing criminal charges.

In the case at Stall High school mentioned previously, a 17-year-old was charged with possessing a weapon on school grounds.

His bond was set at $25,000, and his future in school is unclear.

For Love and other SROs, however, the focus is always on preventing instances of weapons at school before they ever happen.

Love trains her school resource officers to spot troubled students and reach them first, and she thinks it's working.

“Our numbers have come down drastically, our numbers have gone down for disorderly conduct, disturbing schools and fights,” says Love.


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