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Officials say number of students found with guns at central Indiana schools this year is 'alarming'

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Posted at 8:41 PM, Aug 17, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-17 20:41:58-04

INDIANAPOLIS — There have been six guns found at central Indiana schools since the start of the school year, a number school resource officers say is alarming considering most schools have been in session less than a month.

The latest incidents were Thursday morning, when students at both Arsenal Tech High School and Frankfort High School were arrested for having weapons.

“This is extremely concerning,” Julie Q Smith, president of the Indiana School Resource Officer Association told WRTV.

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“I’ve worked in the field of school base policing for ten years,” she said. “I worked as a school resource officer and police officer beyond that, and I cannot remember a start to the school year ever where we’ve had this many.”

Smith said the uptick in guns found at schools is something that’s specifically impacting central Indiana.

“I’m not aware of any outside of what’s been reported in central Indiana,” Smith said. “The number that has been located to this point is alarming.”

Guns found this school year

The first central Indiana school systems went back in late July, which means most school districts haven’t even been back to school more than two to three weeks.

Of the six gun related incidents at central Indiana schools, school officials say four of them have been at schools in Indianapolis.

The first was at North Central High School on August 10 when school officials say a Glock 9 handgun was found during a search of five students who were caught smoking in a boy’s restroom before classes began.

The student told school officials they were carrying the weapon for protection in the neighborhood they live in.

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The incident Thursday morning at Arsenal Tech High School was also caught before classes started.

Indianapolis Public Schools said in a statement that the student had a loaded handgun on school property and was taken into custody by IPS police.

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Many of the reported incidents over the last few years have involved students in high school being found with weapons, but that isn’t always the case.

Earlier this month in Whiteland a bus driver confiscated a gun from an elementary school student’s backpack after another student alerted him to it. Clark-Pleasant Schools officials honored the driver, Brent Boltz, for his quick thinking and actions.

“Clearly we’ve had our hands full so far this year,” Smith said.

Concerned parents

“What can you do?”

That’s the question Michael Craig, who has a 13-year-old daughter in school wants answered.

“Parents and schools need to be responsible,” he told WRTV’s Rachael Wilkerson.

Duane Nickell believes more safety measures could be put into place at schools, but the real problem is that guns are too accessible to kids and teens.

READ | Schools across US are adapting safety codes because of gun violence

“You don’t want school to be an armed camp,” Nickell said. “I think they’re probably doing as much as they can. I don’t think there is a way to stop it until you reduce the number of guns. I think guns are the problem.”

How can you help?

Smith agrees, she says police and school staff can’t fix the problem alone.

“If a kid has access to the entire world on their cell phone, that’s where a lot of these communications start,” Smith said.

She believes it must begin with the parents having conversations, checking backpacks and just being attentive to their children.

"It's up to everybody and it really takes a village,” Smith said. “There are a lot more students in the school than staff and when we all work together collaboratively a safe school culture can happen.”

And making sure that you lock up your firearms.

“If you do have firearms in your home, you’ve got to keep those locked up and out of reach,” Smith said. “Even if you think they will never do it, every parent thinks their kid will never do such a thing.”

"It's up to everybody and it really takes a village,” Smith said. “There are a lot more students in the school than staff and when we all work together collaboratively a safe school culture can happen.”