Richmond County campus security varies by school

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April 24, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---A ninth grader has been expelled from Butler High School for having a loaded weapon on campus. Authorities say they found a 25 caliber semi-automatic pistol on 17-year-old Melquan Robinson back in March.

They say he was expelled for the 2005 school year for making a series of bomb threats, and this time he's out for good.

Now the question is how the student got a loaded gun onto campus.

News 12 investigated some possible problems with school security.

Metal detectors can help schools catch anyone trying to bring in a weapon. They seem to be working. But they can only keep weapons out if they're used the right way.

When the detector goes off at the Alternative School, it lets Principal Dr. Wayne Frazier know there might be danger.

"In the morning, every door is closed off except this one, then everyone comes through the detector," said Dr. Frazier.

This detector catches any kind of metal. We walked through with jewelry and a wireless microphone transmitter and it went off right away.

Richmond County's code says each school is in charge of protecting its own students. Some do everything they can to keep trouble locked out.

Others have more of an open-door policy.

At Butler High, we walked through an unlocked door with no detector.

The county's policy says not everyone has to be tested every time, but it also says schools should tighten up when there is a known weapons problem.

"We're doing a common sense approach," said BOE member Frank Dolan. "But we're probably going to have to tighten up policies and procedures, because no one wants these issues in Richmond County or Augusta, Georgia."

Glenn Hills High stopped us before we even got to the door. Bungalow Road has the same policy.

"They know this is a deterrent and they know 100% are getting searched when they come through," Dr. Frazier said.

But it's a different story at T.W. Josey and Lucy Laney. The detectors went off, but no one said a word. Instead of administration finding us, we had to look for them to ask about tightening security.

We called interim superintendent Thompson to get clarification on this policy. So far, he has not called us back. The same goes for the chief of public safety.

Mr. Dolan says they could keep a closer eye on the detectors if they had more staff.

He says there's a resource officer on each campus, but they're stretched very thin, and that makes it more difficult to check the detector every time it goes off.

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