Concerns for Possible School Violence in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Show how Community Gang Issues Frequently Impact School Safety

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police gang unit officers and area school officials are working to address concerns relating to a fatal shooting of 17-year-old John Derrell Kempson Jr. who was shot and killed on Saturday night. The victim was a student at Vance High School and police are concerned about the level of social media chatter regarding possible gang violence in wake of the murder.

Additional police presence has been in place at several area high schools this week due to concerns about possible gang violence. This type of situation has been a major issue for many school districts.

When I served as a school district police chief in the 1990’s we regularly assigned additional personnel to potential trouble spots through our Special Operations Unit – a group of selected officers who could be moved from one area to another to help address these and other types of concerns. Our school district police department normally assigned between eight and ten sworn personnel to a federally funded area gang task force each summer to help us maintain accurate gang intelligence. Other officers from this task force would in turn often be deployed at schools and athletic events when intelligence indicated the potential for gang violence was high.

These types of situations often places considerable strain on school district and local law enforcement resources and requires a high degree of cooperation and collaboration. Gang members often try to target students who are members of rival gangs as they try to go to and from school as well as at school and during special events.

A proactive approach is required to keep the types of gang violence that have become common place in many communities from turning into major incidents of violence at schools and school events.

About Michael Dorn

Michael Dorn serves as the Executive Director of Safe Havens International, a non-profit school safety center. The author of 27 books on school safety, Michael’s campus safety work has taken him to 11 countries over the past 34 years.