Handcuffed student in police car shoots himself after school threat

Posted by on December 7, 2012

Deputies did not conduct a full search of a troubled Texas high school senior and missed a gun that he used to shoot himself police said on Thursday, according to Houston Chronicle newspaper article.

The 17-year-old male student was in intensive care after officers performed a quick pat-down on Wednesday following concerns that the high school senior might cause harm to himself, according to reports.

The male attended North Shore High School in the Galena Park Independent School District, where a concerned friend alerted school officials that he threatened harm to himself.

Police reported that the student was resisting and tried to run. He was taken into custody and a deputy performed a quick pat-down, but not a more intrusive search, before putting the student in a police car.

Details are online in the Houston Chronicle story.

As I explained to the Houston Chronicle reporter, this incident is a sobering reminder that law enforcement officers must maintain the same level of caution and thoroughness when dealing with juveniles and at schools as they do with adult suspects out on the streets. There is always a risk, especially in today’s hyper-sensitive and politically-driven climate in which police interventions in schools are viewed, that officers may be a bit less cautious in dealing with kids as they would be with adults.

This well-intended officer will likely carrying the psychological burden of this incident for the rest of the officer’s career and lifetime. We need to support the reasonable actions of police officers working at schools so they feel comfortable in taking prudent steps to protect student suspects, other students, school staff, and themselves.

The incident also reminds me that we need to do a better job of training our school principals, assistant principals, deans, and school safety /security / police officers on best practices in student searches, safely responding to reports of students with guns and other weapons, etc.  I continue to be amazed that we do not have more tragedies resulting from well-intended, but poorly trained, school administrators who intervene with students suspected of having guns, knives, and other weapons in schools.

What training do your school administrators and safety officials receive on safely managing reports of students with weapons?

Ken Trump

Visit School Security Blog at:  www.schoolsecurityblog.com

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