Las Vegas Sun

September 21, 2017

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Clark County School District police report increase in guns found on school grounds

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Clark County School District Police Lt. Ken Young addresses a recent spike in gun-related incidents at Clark County schools.

After two Clark County high school students were found to have brought guns to school this week, Clark County School District Police announced Friday that three more gun-related incidents occurred in the last four days.

At a news conference to address the recent rash of guns found on school grounds, Lt. Ken Young acknowledged that a total of five guns were confiscated inside and around various Clark County schools since Monday.

“As a law enforcement community, as a school district, we are concerned that we’ve seen an increase at this time of the year,” Young said.

Police say they have confiscated eight firearms and 22 BB guns and pellet guns from schools this school year. Through Feb. 3 of the 2010-11 school year, officials had confiscated seven firearms and 11 BB or pellet guns. There are two officers at every county high school, and a patrol division serves middle and elementary schools.

Young said the string of gun-related incidents started Jan. 30 when a 16-year-old boy was found with a 9 mm handgun on the Centennial High School campus. A tip led police to the boy, who was detained in connection with possession of a dangerous weapon on school property. He was transported and booked into the Clark County Juvenile Detention Center.

The second incident occurred Feb. 1 during a routine traffic stop outside of Hickey Elementary. Young said an individual who was dropping off a student became impatient, drawing the attention of officers as he was trying to exit the parking lot. An officer who approached the vehicle found a handgun in the car in plain sight. The man was arrested, and there was no disruption to classes.

That same day, police got word that a student at Del Sol High School possibly was in possession of a weapon. Investigating officers found that the student had brought a weapon to school that day but did not have it on him at the time officers made contact with him, Young said. Police later confiscated the weapon from his home. Young said the case would be reviewed through the District Attorney’s juvenile division and an arrest was pending, but the student was facing expulsion through the school district’s administrative process.

The district has a zero tolerance policy on weapons, and Young says almost all students who bring weapons to school are expelled not only from the school, but from the district.

On Thursday, police investigating a student robbery at Cheyenne High School found an 18-year-old student in possession of a .32-caliber handgun, Young said. The gun was taken into custody but the student has not been arrested.

“We want to make sure that we have dotted our i’s and crossed our t’s as it relates to how we got the weapon,” Young said. “We want to make sure that the arrest is good and it’s solid before we make the physical custody arrest.”

Later that night, detectives following up on a burglary case at Legacy High School got a tip that someone there was possibly in possession of a weapon. Young said a 29-year-old man, who is a felon, was arrested after being found with a firearm.

The last spike, he said, came six years ago and was related to gang activity.

Asked why students brought guns to school, Young said some did it for protection while others "wanted to be cool." Most weapons were obtained in students' homes or somewhere in their neighborhood, or possibly were stolen.

“In 99 percent of the cases, parents don’t know their students were aware of where the weapons are and how to get them,” Young said.

Young said the weather could have something to do with the increase in guns at schools. Warm weather fosters social activities among students, he said, which leads some students to carry guns for protection and others to carry them as a status symbol.

“We need everyone to be vigilant as we want to make sure we keep our kids safe,” said Young. “We’re asking the community to assist us, especially parents, from the home. What you can do is immediately start talking to your kids. Take an inventory of their rooms, of their backpacks, their vehicles.”

Beyond tips and officers in schools who build a rapport with students, CCSD officers count on community support to prevent weapons from entering schools.

“The metal detector question has come back over the years,” Young said. “We use them for special events — sporting events, dances, anything where there is going to be outside influence.”

He said installing regular metal detectors in schools may not be a solution.

“Metal detectors don’t always decrease weapons, because kids know where they are,” said Young.

Tips about weapons on a school campus by contacting the CCSD police dispatcher at 799-5419, or to remain anonymous, the 24-hour tip line at 799-0228.

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