Baldwin County Police reported to Baldwin County’s Oak Hill Middle School after an unloaded gun was found in a student’s possession on Jan. 19. This marks the third time in three months that a student has brought a gun onto a school’s campus in Baldwin County.
The police report states that the student was in possession of a small caliber gun and was removed from campus. Further information about the victim was withheld due to their age.
Baldwin County Sheriff Bill Massee said no violent act took place in the incidents.
“On both occasions the students were detained, we investigated it, and they were processed through juvenile court,” Massee said.
Massee also said that there is no common motive in all three of these incidents.
“It’s hard to say that any of these incidents were related to the other,” he said. “It’s a picture of the times that we live in that a child would consider bringing a weapon into school whether it’s the social structure within in that home, if it media driven or if that individual child wasn’t thinking.”
The community has been discussing gang-related activity in the wake of these accidents.
“We do have gang issues in our community, we have crime in our community and to be real blunt with you we have narcotics in our community,” Massee said. “It is the straw that stirs the drinks. It is what keeps gangs in business and it’s what creates a lot of problems without young people in trouble.”
The Baldwin County School Board has decided to place metal detectors in the middle and high schools to broaden their security.
The board also decided to make the schools cell phone free and enforce the use of clear or visible mesh backpacks in order to monitor the items brought into their school. School resource officers are required to always keep a gun on them, but teachers and other faculty are not permitted to possess a gun on campus.
Senior special education major Shelby Marrick said she feels safer with a resource officer carrying a gun.
“I think it is appropriate for the resource officer to keep a gun on them as long as it is concealed and not available to anyone else,” Marrick said.
Junior middle grades education major Anslee Broome said she feels teachers have other options protect her students than having a gun in the classroom.
“I think that can be prevented through better security getting into the school or maybe having a resource officer at the end of each hall,” Broome said.
Broome has experienced local schools’ security measures as a student teacher.
“I walk through a metal detector every day and I love it. I have no problem with showing the security guard my purse,” Broome said. “I also feel safer knowing he has a gun with him if anything were to happen.
A prominent sign notifies visitors that Baldwin County's Oak Hill Middle School is a gun-free zone.
Sheriff Massee says that the spike of incidents is not isolated to Baldwin County.
“We looked at the number state wide of the large number of incidents with people bringing weapons to school, we were taken back at the numbers of weapons that had been confiscated and the arrests made in other school systems,” he said. “By no means are we making light of the insistences of what happened at Baldwin County but we do feel like we a running a pretty good school system and we try to be as secure as we can.”