Hodsgson’s school resource officer responded to a report of drugs and a gun inside of a student’s vehicle. 

Student arrest for gun, weed shows value of resource officers

Jarek RutzHeadlines, Education

Hodsgson’s school resource officer responded to a report of drugs and a gun inside of a student’s vehicle. 

Hodsgson’s school resource officer responded to a report of drugs and a gun inside of a student’s vehicle.

A retired police officer and school resource officer who has decades of experience in law enforcement thinks an arrest at a Newark high school illustrates how important school safety operations are. 

Thursday morning, Delaware State Police arrested a 17-year-old male from New Castle for drug and gun offenses at Paul M. Hodgson Vocational Technical High School, part of the New Castle County Vocational Technical School District.

“This is a great example on the effective usage of a properly-selected and trained school resource officer assigned to our schools,” said Joey Melvin, who has previously served as a police officer in Harrington and Milton and has been the school resource officer director for Milford and Georgetown.

Now, Melvin is the director of the Center for Safe Schools and the regional director of the National Association of School Resource Officers.

“This also demonstrates that the climate is definitely starting to change where we’re getting the word out for students, parents in the community to really share important information,” he said, “an example of that ‘see something, say something’ mentality.”

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The incident occurred at 8:38 a.m. when the Hodsgson’s school resource officer was notified by school staff of a report of drugs and a gun inside of a student’s vehicle. 

The school’s staff confirmed the vehicle was parked in the school’s parking lot and the student was in class. 

The student was removed from his classroom and a search of his vehicle was conducted, which led to the discovery of approximately 2.18 grams of marijuana, and a loaded handgun that was concealed in a black satchel. 

There were no threats stated or implied towards students or staff at the school and the school day proceeded as normal.

The student was charged with the following crimes:

  • Possession of a Deadly Weapon by a Person Prohibited who also Possesses a Controlled Substance (felony)
  • Possession of a Firearm by a Prohibited Juvenile (felony)
  • Possession of a Weapon in a Safe School Zone by a Student
  • Possession of Marijuana by a Person Under 18

The 17-year-old student was arraigned by the Justice of the Peace Court 7 and committed to the New Castle County Detention Center on a $20,100 cash bond.

“We understand that incidents like these can be distressing, and we want to reassure you that the safety protocols we have in place worked as intended,” the district said in a statement to families. “We encourage you to have a conversation with your child about the importance of reporting any suspicious activity and the gravity of bringing weapons onto school grounds.”

The arrested student’s name has not been released.

Last fall, schools changed their football admission policies because of shooting near one game and a scare at the other.

Appoquinimink School District and New Castle County Vo-Tech’s Howard High School were responding to a shooting that took place off of Appoquinimink High’s campus during a game, and an incident where crowds stormed the exits and hopped fences at a Howard game.

In February, a 16-year old male was charged in connection to a fired gun in Colonial School District’s William Penn High School.

On the same day as Colonial’s incident, unloaded guns were discovered in the backpacks of an 8-year-old and a 14-year-old at Shortlidge Elementary School and A.I. du Pont Middle School, respectively.

Also in February, a gun was found in a hallway when Appoquinimink High School was hosting a basketball game against Tri-State Christian Academy. 

“When you see something like that there’s heightened concerns,” Melvin said, “but at the same time, I don’t want people to lose sight of the systems that we put in place together that worked perfectly in that situation.”

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