Auburn, MI -- A school resource officer at Bay City Western High and Middle School in Auburn, MI, discharged his weapon in the line of duty on Friday, Nov. 11th, at 12:30pm. But it’s not what one might think. Officer Adam Brown was reportedly in an empty room when the incident occurred. According to Michigan Live, Brown discharged his backup weapon, a .380 caliber Sig Sauer handgun, the bullet passing through a wall before striking a teacher in the neck.
Bay County Sheriff John E. Miller stated Brown’s possession of the weapon “conforms to departmental policy" and added, "he qualified with it and he was cleared by the range officer."
Police officers must qualify at a gun range by shooting at targets with predetermined acceptable accuracy. But most police officers’ backup weapons usually never come out of their holsters, often located around the ankle. Why Brown removed his secondary weapon from his presumed ankle holster is anyone’s guess, and the police have offered few explanations. The shroud of silence has alarmed many parents, according to MI Live, who were only notified of the discharge by an automated school-delivered voicemail to their phones.
Brown is no rookie, having already logged more than 20 years with the department. There’s no question as to his competence to handle a weapon. However, the officer’s judgment is now a concern. An investigation is underway, but until concluded, Brown’s superiors are not commenting on how the incident occurred, neither are school officials. For now, they’re mum, having complied with Michigan State Police’s request not to comment.
Pauline Helmling, president of the Bay City Public Schools Board of Education, did address the officer’s discharged firearm. Helmling told reporters, “This shook all of us to the core. It was very scary. And we are so grateful that no one got hurt." Helmling offered no details but did say, “Being that it's still under investigation and in the hands of the Michigan State Police, we know only as much as the public knows right now."
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Jenny LaPlant, a parent, voiced her concerns. "I didn't even know there was a police officer in this school," she said adding, "I don't believe it's that bad of a school that it needs a police officer, let alone an officer with a gun. To me, they just put my kid and everybody else's kid in harm's way and they don't have enough respect for us parents. They should have called a meeting, but they're throwing it under the rug. My kid goes to that school and I do need to know what happened."
Another parent, Kevin Cliff, addressed the school board with his concerns and stated, “They didn't say a word.” Cliff continued, "It seems like they're trying to cover their behinds. I think the secure mode (lockdown following the shooting) wasn't done to make sure kids were actually safe; it was done to say they did it. That's the only justification. It really seems they're trying to close ranks. They're not being forthcoming. It makes me really question if there's more to the story."
From what we can tell from the MI Live story, a female teacher was struck in the neck while she was instructing her class. Brown, who once was named the “Officer Of The Year,” has reportedly been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
You may have heard it said that “Guns don’t kill, people do.” Responsible gun owners are well aware that firearms simply do not discharge all by themselves. When a gun is fired, it happens because either the trigger has been pulled, or an object has struck the back of the hammer (if the gun has one), causing the firing pin to make contact with the bullet’s primer, firing the weapon. Many handguns have several safety features to prevent such unintentional discharge. So, in all likelihood, Officer Brown was handling his backup weapon, either cleaning it, or admiring its fine characteristics, and pulled the trigger. Either way, it is safe to say the firearm did not discharge while it was holstered around his ankle.
With a teacher having been struck in the neck by the officer’s bullet, many parents are questioning whether or not school resource officers are even necessary. One problem with school resource officers on campus is with what they customarily do after an incident occurs. They arrest teenagers (a great number of whom are minorities) take them to jail, and often prosecute them in the judicial system. There are innumerable instances where students have been arrested --all of which may mean the students are sometimes more likely to get an arrest record by the time they graduate high school, than they are to earn a high school diploma.
But we cannot help but look at the incident with another point of view. If a teacher accidentally discharged his/her weapon at school, striking another teacher, the teacher would subsequently be arrested. So why are police held to a lower standard? The teacher, even if he/she had a concealed carry permit, would have committed the crime of discharging a weapon in public, not to mention a 'gun free zone,' but when a police officer discharges his weapon in school, in the end, no arrest of the police officer will likely take place.