HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — School leaders are taking action after nearly 90 weapons made their way into Central Virginia schools last year.
8News spoke with Henrico County Public Schools (HCPS) Superintendent Dr. Amy Cashwell about the future of school security and safety.
“We have seen an increase in youth crime and violence both in our schools and in our community. And that is alarming and concerning,” Cashwell said.
A total of 32 weapons and four guns have been recovered from Henrico schools so far this school year. During the 2021-2022 school year, 87 weapons were recovered from the school district — including nine guns. Cashwell says the increase in cases over the last two years has made it clear that things need to change.
After a loaded gun was recovered from Holman Middle School last month, Cashwell sent a message to families and staff.
“I am saddened to live in a time when these incidents happen, and like many in our community, I am also angry,” her message read.
Following the incident, Cashwell decided it was time for a new initiative and announced that multiple HCPS schools would be getting new metal detectors. When asked if the county would have any issues funding the initiative, Cashwell said time would tell.
“We’re currently in our budget process, which goes on through the spring. So certainly as we’re field testing and learning from this experience, we’ll be able to consider if there are any budget implications,” Cashwell said.
Regardless of the final decision on the initiative, Cashwell said she is calling on parents and guardians to stay proactive with their children.
“To our families, I urge you to know what your students are posting on social media,” she said. “Know what’s in their backpacks, in their pockets. If you have weapons in your home, make sure they’re stored safely.”
Henrico is far from the only school district dealing with this issue. During the 2021-2022 school year, 27 weapons were recovered in the Richmond school district and 26 were recovered the in Hanover district — Chesterfield, the largest Central Virginia district, did not provide data for that school year.
HCPS is planning to start field testing the metal detectors in the coming weeks. Families with students whose school was chosen to participate will receive more information from their school.