Thursday, May 14, 2009

10-Year-Old Boy Arrested for Carrying Toy Gun; Newton County Schools and Police Overreact

Alandis Ford's mother, Tosha, thought she was being a good mom when she bought him a little toy cowboy gun at Wal-Mart.

Alandis Ford thought he was being a good student when he brought the toy to school while they were studying the Civil War.

The Newton County, Georgia police thought they were taking down a rabid terrorist who was going to do horrible things when they arrested and fingerprinted Alanis.

Now, according to a story on the WXIA 11Alive NBC website, the little guy is facing expulsion and long-term juvenile detention for bringing a cap gun to school
.

"It kind of reminded me of the [soldiers'] guns that I was studying," Alandis told WXIA. "Because I had brought pictures home of the gun and stuff, and that gun that I had reminded me of the revolver."

Tosha said that on Wednesday afternoon, six Newton County sheriff's deputies went to their home. They asked Alandis for his gun, and when he showed it to them, demanded the "real gun." Tosha says they then called him a liar, booked him, and fingerprinted him.

He was charged with possessing a weapon on school property and with terroristic acts and threats.

Lt. Mark Mitchell told WXIA that Alandis had threatened other kids on the bus and in his neighborhood. Alandis denies this.

Alandis said he was on the school bus on Tuesday, when he dug into his bookbag to get his phone out.

Alandis said, "The boy beside me, he reached in my bookbag and got it [the toy gun] and started telling everybody, 'He's got a gun, he's got a gun,' and spread it around the whole bus. So I put it back in my bookbag." The bus driver completely missed what was going on, and never confiscated it.

The next day, Alandis went to another friend's house, and brought the toy gun. The friend, who had never seen a real gun, freaked out, and called 911. Alandis said the boy thought it was real, and worried Alandis might shoot it.

"The 911 call that we received was that a 10-year-old male was outside of a residence with a gun threatening to shoot another child," said Mitchell, in his best cop-talk voice.

Mitchell also said investigators realized Alandis' only gun was the toy one, but that they felt totally justified in possibly ruining his life because blah blah blah safety blah blah blah mindless adherence to the rules.

"In this day and time, we do not take anything lightly, whether it's a toy gun or a real weapon, for the safety of the kids and everyone involved, the safety of the school. That's our main concern."

But is that an unusual overreaction?

Not at all. At least not for Newton County.

Sherri Viniard, the PR director for the Newton County schools, emailed 11Alive the following statement:

"Student safety is our primary concern, and although this was a toy gun, it is still a very serious offense and it is a violation of school rules. We will not tolerate weapons of any kind on school property."

So Alandis has been suspend indefinitely, had his first hearing in juvenile court, and is in trouble with his mom.

It's not hopeless for the kid, however, as Tosha said Alandis' caseworker is going to recommend probation rather than detention. And his suspension may turn into 10 days, rather than expulsion.

But despite all the stupidity and overreaction, Alandis still wants to be a police officer when he grows up. (This is the point of the story where you go 'awww' and start mumbling something about hay fever making your eyes water.)

"You know, he's a 10-year-old little boy who wants to be a police officer," Tosha said. They play with "little walky-talkies and stuff, because they like to play police and recon."

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