Published on June 23rd, 2016 |1
APS superintendent: no stolen handguns; but iffy tracking system
“This is the stuff that keeps me up at night,” the superintendent said, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution report Thursday.
Carstarphen held a news conference Wednesday to repond to reports of a district investigation into the suspected theft of 30 handguns from the Atlanta school district, which was prompted by a June 14 call into a district ethics hotline, which was reported on by BuckheadView and all local media.
The caller claimed that 30 guns were stolen from the trunk of district security director Marquenta Sands Hall’s district-provided car.
There was reported speculation that the guns may have been purchased for the new district-run police force that begins operation July 1 to replace Atlanta Police Department officers who
previously patrolled local schools.
Carstarphen has said the in-house police force will give her more control over how officers are selected and trained and help create an environment of “love and respect” in Atlanta schools. The new force was to be sworn in today.
Ninety handguns purchased for the district’s new police officers are accounted for, Carstarphen said during the press conference. So are 18 handguns previously purchased. Those 18 guns were mainly used by police officers hired by the district as part-time employees, district spokeswoman Kimberly Willis Green said.
Carstarphen said, there is no evidence that any firearms the district knows of are missing or stolen. But the school district may never know how many guns it has purchased or where those guns are today because the system hasn’t had a way of keeping track of the weapons.
The district did provide purchasing records for 106 of 108 guns the district has owned. Two of the guns were provided by the Atlanta Police Department, Carstarphen said. Most of the 108 guns are in a safe. Four have been assigned to Hall or school resource officers. One was stolen in 2006 but has been recovered by the Atlanta Police Department.
As security director, Hall was responsible for the district’s arsenal, district spokeswoman Kimberly Willis Green told the AJC. Hall was recently hired for a similar position in the district’s new police department.
Hall told district investigators that until the purchase of guns for the new police officers, the district owned only 18 guns, Carstarphen said.
“As it stands right now, we don’t have anything currently surfacing that says that there are any other guns in inventory at this time,” Carstarphen said. Still, it’s a “fair assumption” that the district doesn’t know if any other guns were purchased and, if so, where they are, she added.
Other officials with several other local school districts’ police departments told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution they keep inventories of their weapons and store them in weapons vaults or similar areas.
The Atlanta school district has struggled to create effective administrative systems for tracking purchasing and other important areas. That makes it difficult to track down past weapon purchases, Carstarphen said. But she said the district would continue to investigate and has asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for help.
“This district under my administration stands ready to hold everyone accountable for anything that might have been inappropriate regarding any firearms or weapons in the past,” she said. “We want to be certain that there’s no way possible that these claims could possibly be true.”
(To read BuckheadView’s earlier story on this issue, click here.)