Profile No. 34

Bibb County, GA, Department of Education, Violence and Weapons Prevention and Intervention Program -- Macon, GA

Program Type or Federal Program Source:
School-based enforcement program.

Program Goal:
To reduce violence and weapons in schools.

Specific Groups Targeted by the Strategy:
School-age youth and gang members.

Geographical Area Targeted by the Strategy:
Bibb County, GA, school campuses and surrounding areas.

Evaluated by:
Internal data collection.

Contact Information:
Michael Dorn
Bibb County Campus Police
2444 Ross Avenue
Macon, GA 31204
Phone: 912­752­5236

Years of Operation:

The Bibb County, GA, Department of Education has adopted a comprehensive prevention and intervention initiative to reduce the number of weapons in schools. The initiative's five components are: (1) a policy that defines, prohibits students from carrying, and establishes consequences for being caught with an impermissible weapon at school; (2) constant education of students to reinforce the policy; (3) policies designed to make it difficult to bring weapons to school; (4) weapon-screening programs; and (5) consistent sanctions for violations.

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In addition to firearms and explosives, two dozen other types of weapons are prohibited, including switchblades, pocket knives, box cutters, razors, ice picks, blackjacks, and chains. Students sign a behavioral contract pledging not to bring weapons to school or to handle another student's weapon, and parents and school administrators sign in support of the students. The contract specifies that violators will be arrested and disciplined and explains that random searches of lockers, cars, and students will occur. A male and female police team participates in random searches of entire classrooms, and a "gun dog" assists in searching lockers. All public areas where weapons might be hidden are routinely checked. Zero tolerance for weapons violations mandates prosecution by the schools for every incident. Students are removed from the classroom, examined by a psychologist, and may complete the year in an alternative school. Other intervention methods include strictly enforced policies against fighting, gang paraphernalia, gang signs, and graffiti.

Community policing techniques such as high-visibility officers on dirt bikes on school campuses, analysis of overall crime reports to identify schools at risk, and zero tolerance of motor vehicle violations in school areas contribute to a communitywide effort. Stopping cars in school areas for suspicious behavior, minor violations, and searches is believed to reduce gang drive-by incidents and keep nonstudents out of the area. Gun suppression strategies target gang members and students at random.

Campus police speak regularly at community organizations and churches as part of Bibb County's violence prevention and education strategy. They also teach an American Bar Association law and individual responsibility curriculum to eighth graders and a National Rifle Association gun accident prevention curriculum to third graders. Teachers are now being trained to recognize body movements that are indicative of gun possession.

Bibb County is reported to be the only urban school system in Georgia that has not had a student shot while at school. The relationship between students and law enforcement is said to be very good. Students are even said to have applauded when the police arrived to search their class for weapons.

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