Oak Ridge Schools handles 4 weapons incidents in two weeks

UPDATE: Thursday, December 19th, 6:00 p.m.

(WBIR-Oak Ridge) Several students are facing consequences after Oak Ridge Schools and the Oak Ridge Police Department handled four weapons-related incidents in the last two weeks.

Thursday morning, Devin Jose-Campone, an adult student, was arrested on several charges after police found controlled substances, a hatchet, drug paraphernalia, several cell phones, and a ski mask in his vehicle after he and three students at Oak Ridge High School and Alternative School were caught skipping class.

Wednesday, police found a loaded revolver, marijuana, and nearly $1,000 in what officers call 'drug money' in a high school student's car. Also Wednesday, a student allegedly threatened others on a bus with a knife.

The weapons incidents come after a 13-year-old boy brought a BB pistol to Robertsville Middle School on December 5th, leading to an aggravated assault charge.

According to James Akagi, Police Chief with the Oak Ridge Police Department, despite the recent incidents, the number of police responses to Oak Ridge Schools has decreased this school year.

"The first few weeks we had no incidents that required police response," said Akagi, who attributed the decrease to increased police presence.

Akagi said three additional officers, though not School Resource Officers, are at the high school every day.

"Their presence and their visibility is a deterrent to criminal activity. And it's also a reassurance to students and parents," said Akagi.

Thursday, eight police cars were parked in front of the high school.

"I've never seen this many police officers here, in the three years my daughter has gone here," said Lori Robinette.

Robinette, along with several parents 10News spoke with, said she would like to see more School Resource Officers, or SROs. It has been a topic in the works for months, since Oak Ridge only has one SRO for all eight schools.

"Budgets are tight everywhere. And we would always like to have more SRO's in our buildings. And we couldn't get that to happen last year, prior to my arrival," said Bruce Borchers, Superintendent for Oak Ridge Schools.

Borchers and Akagi agreed that while plans for adding SROs have not come to fruition as quickly as hoped, communication between ORPD and ORS has significantly improved this school year.

"I think a lot of that belongs to the schools. They invite us in, they make space for us. They allow our officers to sit and write reports in the lobbies, and that just wasn't done before," said Akagi.

Over the summer, Akagi penned a memo to city officials, outlining his frustrations on working with the school district. He said in some cases, school staff neglected to report potential campus crimes to S.R.O's or the ORPD. He also wrote that school staff seemed reluctant, and in some instances obstructive, when dealing with law enforcement.

"I don't want to dwell on the negatives. That was in the past," said Akagi. "Now, we've got a great relationship and a lot has changed since he [Borchers] has been here."

Akagi said transparency has also improved, between both ORPD and ORS, as well as keeping parents in the loop.

"The first thing I did on most of these was talk to Bruce, and say this is what I want to do, I want to put a press release out and here's what I want to put in it," said Akagi. "And he said 'fine' and we worked together to get it out. "

Parents said they are happy officials are communicating the issues with parents, but some questioned why there wasn't a lock-down Wednesday after officers discovered the loaded revolver in the student's car.

Borchers and Akagi argued that since school is released early on Wednesdays, the timing didn't put students in immediate danger.

"We had control of the student. We had control of the weapon, in separate places, and that just doesn't necessitate a lock-down, especially when there's no students and staff in the building," said Akagi.

But some parents said while school was out, their child was still on campus.

"My child walked through that lobby, I picked her up after she had an after-school study hall, and at 3:01 she walked through that lobby and was unaware of anything going on. Um, that bothers me. Because her safety was very much at risk," said Linda Mabry. "I'm just really disappointed today. I'm really disappointed. I had a false sense of security. "

In a separate incident Thursday, a 14-year-old student allegedly refused to go to school, leading a parent to contact the ORPD. Officers interviewed the student at his home on Baypath Drive, and noted he was in possession of a tactical load bearing vest. It was unclear why he had the vest, and no charges were filed.


Two Oak Ridge High School students had brush-ins with the law Wednesday afternoon.

In the first incident, police arrested a student for having a loaded revolver and marijuana packaged for resale.

School officials called police after the student became disruptive in a disciplinary meeting. When officers got there, they searched the student's car and found the drugs and a gun, as well as more than $900 of suspected drug money

Police are also investigating a possible aggravated assault on a school bus. They say a student threatened other students on the bus with a folding stainless steel knife. The bus driver took the knife away and allowed all students to get off the bus.

ORPD identified the suspects and are continuing their investigation.


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