CHARLOTTE — Police are encouraging students in schools to use their phones to send in tips about weapons -- and students could get money in return for doing that, officials said.
A 9 mm purple handgun was found on the campus of North Mecklenburg High School last week.
“Between our two high schools, we have found three to four handguns and our patrol officers haven’t even found that many on their daily patrols, in terms of traffic stops,” said Capt. Brian Vaughan, Huntersville Police Department.
Vaughan said the number of guns found at schools is up 30% from two years ago.
“They have been loaded and a lot of times there is a round in the chamber,” Vaughan said.
Channel 9 anchor Allison Latos spoke with Vaughan about the alarming statistic. “What stories are you getting from these kids?” Allison asked. “How are they getting these guns?”
“They’re either holding it for somebody (or) somebody has given it to them,” Vaughan said. “It is really hard to pinpoint where it all started.”
The purple 9 mm gun was stolen in July 2020 from a car on Fairwood Avenue, nearly 14 miles from North Meck where police discovered it.
A fight captured on video in early November showed a gun sliding across the floor inside Hopewell High School.
Investigators also found a second gun on a bus. Police said the gun was stolen in October from an unlocked car on Palomar Drive, a mile from Hopewell High.
There have been 24 guns found across Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools this year.
Allison asked CMS if the district knew how many were stolen and from where. The district directed Channel 9 to CMPD, but police don’t keep those specific records.
Huntersville police are trying to get ahead of the threat and set up a North Mecklenburg Crimestoppers program for students that offers money for tips about weapons.
Jim Tuck hopes that makes his grandson safer at Hopewell.
“I think it sounds like a good thing,” he said. “Kids love incentives and cash means a lot.”
Some students, like Michael Cook, are skeptical.
“The people that do know, yeah, they’re not going to do anything either,” Cook said. “So, I don’t think it will really work.”
The Crimestoppers reward program uses a scale with different factors to determine the reward amount, but Channel 9 was told it could be as high as $500.
There is one school resource officer for the high schools in Huntersville.
Like many agencies, Huntersville police are down 10% on officers. So, when something happens at a high school, they must pull almost all patrol officers off the streets to respond.
The Huntersville Police Department is asking CMS to fund more SRO positions.
(Watch the video below: Changes discussed at town hall after guns found, students charged at Hopewell HS)
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