School Climate & Safety

One District’s Unusual Fundraising Campaign to Curtail Guns in Schools

By Lyn Riddle, The State (Columbia, S.C.) — April 26, 2022 2 min read
Clark County School District K9 Officer James Harris and his partner Ziggy, a one-year-old, gun-sniffing Labrador Retriever, search for a gun during a training session at Desert Pines High School Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019. The number of weapons confiscated from students at Las Vegas-area schools has risen nearly 30% since the 2019-2020 academic year, corroborating what experts and educators have called a spike in troublesome behavior among schoolchildren since the return of in-person learning nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Twice this year students in a small Upstate school district brought guns to school, causing district officials to launch a campaign to buy specially trained dogs to sniff out firearms.

Lauren District 55, which covers the city of Laurens and some outlying areas in 10 schools with a total of about 5,700 students, has established a gofundme page to raise $20,000 to buy dogs they are calling “article dogs.”

“An article dog is trained specifically for firearms detection to find explosives and black powder,” the district said in a news release. “The utilization of article dogs and narcotics dogs throughout the school system not only helps locate these items but also helps to deter those who would otherwise bring these items onto our school campuses.”

The University of South Carolina bought two such dogs about three years ago — 1-year-old Labrador retrievers Poppy and Sherri.

USC calls them “vapor wake” dogs. They detect scents even in high-flow pedestrian areas, such as sporting events, the university said.

In February, an elementary school student brought a loaded handgun to school to “shoot zombies,” Detective J.C. Brewington from the Laurens Police Department said in a news conference.

The child’s grandfather was arrested for not securing the gun.

Also in February, a student was found with a gun in a backpack after a relative contacted the school to say the child might have a gun.

The student was taken to the Department of Juvenile Justice.

The district released a statement saying, “Parents, students, and community, please understand the seriousness, danger, and ramifications of having firearms and any other type of weapon on school property and in school buildings. We must all work together to stop this from happening again.”

See Also

Free gun locks at the Meriden Police Department, Fri., June 21, 2019. Police are providing free cable style gun locks to residents through a partnership witih Project Child Safe. The locks are available upon request at the front entry desk at the police station.
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Dave Zajac/Record-Journal via AP
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In its news release, the Laurens district mentioned a shooting that took place in neighboring Greenville County in which a 12-year-old was killed after being shot in the chest at Tanglewood Middle School. A fellow student was arrested.

The school district said the dogs would be given to Laurens Police Department and the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office. They could also be used in bomb threats in local businesses and during festivals, the district said.

If the gofundme effort raises more than the cost of the dogs, the district said it would offer gun safety instruction to all students — kindergarten through grade 12 — and buy metal detectors and wands.

Copyright (c) 2022, The State (Columbia, S.C.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.

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