by The Albatross
An unexpected event took place two weeks ago at Hamden High School. Another dazzling example of incompetence was on display. Despite four metal detectors, costing more than $12,000, a student got a gun in the building.
Two of our innocent and saintly students were arguing when Officer Jeremy Brewer was called to the scene. The officer discovered the weapon on one of the girls. (Thank you, Officer Brewer.) The Hamden Police Department released a statement about the incident that afternoon.
Only then, her hand forced, did Principal Nadine Gannon email staff about what had occurred. We had no idea.
The fear in this building cannot be overstated. We thought we were safe when the metal detectors were installed in the high school in December 2021, precisely to stop the weapons problem. (In October 2021, a student brought a loaded .45 to the high school. Principal Nadine Gannon, who likes to call students her family, had this wayward son escorted to her office, where he pranced around with the loaded gun in his bag until his arrest.)
This is a crisis. After a short period of dormancy, the guns are back. Because if an officer found one gun in the high school, there are twenty more. And probably knives and boxcutters as well. It could have been a lot worse, another loaded .45, this time with shots fired.
The incident showed that Hamden High School is still a locus for violence.
A school with metal detectors can reasonably be expected to keep weapons out. Those detectors are more or less useless when guns get in. There needs to be an explanation for how that gun got in the building. Perhaps our luxury detectors missed the gun? Me thinks not. You can’t cheat a metal detector.
Either students have found a way to elude the detectors, perhaps by coming late to school when the detectors are rolled away, or as some students claim, the detectors go off and students are waved through them without a search.
Students claim that security is under pressure not “to trigger” students, and so, let them pass. Insane. The good taxpayers of Hamden did not purchase this high-end amenity for them not to be used properly.
Nadine Gannon often says, “Your safety is my highest priority.” That statement from our chief bureaucrat is all very cynical if she is instructing security to deescalate by letting students pass.
Indeed, when caught red-handed, our students are “triggered,” loud and aggressive, pushing past us, putting their hands on us, causing a commotion. They are never apologetic and contrite. It is unnerving how badly they can behave, particularly when they get caught. So on this particular day, this particular student could have triggered, no pun intended, the metal detector, and been waved on.
What happened is hard to tell because no school official has explained.
The lack of an explanation is also unsettling.
The morning check-ins through security have to be thorough or there is no point to them. Searches need to be consistent when the detectors go off; sporadic searches, or no searches at all, defeat the point of having detectors. Metal detectors need to be 24/7. Students who enter the building, even after classes have begun and the detectors are rolled away, still need to be searched for weapons.
Our portable models can also be used to conduct random sweeps to make sure students are not funneling weapons into the building during the day. Nadine needs to consider that option.
But what exactly happened, no one knows. Superintendent Gary Highsmith has been silent. Nadine Gannon has been silent. In fact, Nadine canceled Thursday’s February 2 ninety-minute faculty meeting, a meeting where she would have faced questions about this incident. On Friday, February 3, a therapy dog was in the building. How nice. We still need an explanation.
There has been no official announcement from Hamden Public Schools about what occurred. The incident has evaporated. This habit of hiding things is nothing new, and it is not reassuring.
Someone must answer for this mistake. Someone must pay for it.
Superintendent Highsmith, please! You know how you love to investigate! (You had a poster of The Grand Inquisitor on your office door when you were head of human resources. Is it still there?) Please, get to the bottom of this!
Mayor Lauren Garrett signed the bid waiver to purchase the metal detectors. She made the call; it was her decision, bypassing the town council and incurring the wrath of her own party, that got our school this beautiful, essential gift.
Mayor Garrett likes to call herself everyone’s mother. (Although I appreciate that you would like to be my parent, I have only one mother, Your Honor.) Mommy Garrett, your children are hungry for an answer! Feed us! We need to know about the flow of weapons into our school!
And to our “triggered” students: Too Bad. We all slog through metal detectors at airports, concerts, and sporting events. When we set them off, we get searched. You will be, too.
This school will lose whatever legitimacy it has left if it continues to allow weapons in the building.