Local school district sees increase in weapons incidents

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by Craig Cheatham / News 4 | @CheathamKMOV

KMOV.com

Posted on January 22, 2014 at 7:04 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 23 at 6:38 AM

 (KMOV) -- More than 600 weapons were found in Missouri schools last year alone. That is 23-percent fewer weapons that districts reported finding just four years ago.

Unlike the rest of the state, Ferguson-Florissant has seen a dramatic increase in weapon-related cases.

A week ago, at Walnut Grove Elementary, a student brought a BB gun to school. The district was supposed to tell parents about it the same day, but didn’t share the news until Wednesday and that left many parents angry and frustrated.

Jana Shortt is the spokeswoman for the Ferguson-Florissant School District. On Wednesday, following News 4’s request for more information, she revealed that the latest incident was the 18th time during this school year that the district has reported a weapons incident, which means those incidents will likely increase over last year’s numbers.

It’s unclear why Ferguson-Florissant is finding more weapons, but a News 4 investigation has discovered that the number of weapons incidents have doubled in the Ferguson-Florissant School District in just the last four years.

In 2010, there were 11 weapons incidents, last year for the second year in a row, there were 21. Many other districts are moving in the opposite direction, seeing dramatic decreases. 

In St. Louis City, the district had 111 in 2010, and 51 last year; a decrease of 55-percent. In Hazelwood, the district had 42 incidents in 2010, and 18 last year; a decrease of 57-percent. In University City, the district had 17 incidents in 2010, and 5 last year; a decrease of 75percent. In Riverview Gardens, the district had 19 incidents in 2010, and 3 last year; a decrease of 85-percent.  

There are metal detectors and uniformed police in every St. Louis City high school and middle school, Ferguson-Florissant doesn’t have fixed metal detectors, and doesn’t automatically bring them to a school after a weapons incident.

A St. Louis City School District spokesman said the biggest difference in school safety is that district security has received extensive training by city police in how to recognize threats, where to search for weapons, and how to secure the buildings, which include a special emphasis on locking doors and searching for weapons on the grounds.   

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