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NCJ Number: 199428 Find in a Library
Title: SRO Averts Repeat of Columbine
Journal: Sheriff  Volume:53  Issue:3  Dated:May-June 2001  Pages:26-27,70
Author(s): Christopher G. O'Brien
Date Published: May 2001
Page Count: 3
Type: Program/Project Description
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article describes how a school resource officer (SRO) prevented a planned significant act of violence by a student at Southside High School in Elmira, NY.
Abstract: An 18-year-old student brought 18 homemade bombs and 2 loaded guns to school. Due to the intervention of the SRO, Deputy Sheriff Robert Hurley, none of the bombs exploded and not a single shot was fired. On Valentine's Day 2001, Deputy Hurley's customary greeting of students at the school entrance was interrupted by a faculty member who requested his presence at the guidance office. There, a female student handed him a note from a boy who described his plan to bring explosives to school. The girls informed the SRO that the boy had brought a gym bag to school instead of his usual backpack. Hurley summoned the school principal and quickly briefed her as the two went to the boy's first-period class. He was not there nor in the hallway or the bathroom. The SRO called his immediate supervisor and requested additional assistance. As the SRO and the principal passed the front windows of the cafeteria, they spotted the boy seated at a table talking with a girl across from him. The gym bag was on the floor next to him. Hurley approached the seated boy, lowered himself to eye level with him, and engaged him in conversation. When the student passively allowed Hurley to pat him down, a loaded .22 Ruger handgun and three carbon dioxide cartridges filled with explosive gun powder were found. The suspect was taken into custody and handcuffed. The SRO never touched the gym bag, which was later removed by a State police bomb squad. When it was opened in a safe environment, police discovered 14 pipe bombs, a propane bomb, and a disassembled .12 gauge shotgun. All 1,400 students and staff members were bused to a neighboring high school. Once the school was evacuated, the sheriff's special services unit began a thorough search of the high school to determine whether any more explosive devices were in the building; none were found. The suspect was arraigned on 11 felony counts of weapon possession and committed to the county jail. Hurley believes the key to preventing what could have been a catastrophe was the student who came forward to report what she knew about the boy's plans and actions. The SRO had built relationships of trust between himself and students, thus making him accessible and approachable as a resource for dealing with possible threats to school security.
Main Term(s): Juvenile delinquency prevention
Index Term(s): Case studies; New York; Police crime-prevention; School security; School security officer training; School security officers; Violence prevention
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