As the father of a daughter who attends Meramec, my only question is how do you prevent this from happening again? I don’t mean the actual crime – I mean how the next incident will be handled by the school and its campus police force. And there will be more incidents. There are a lot of students on that campus and bad things are bound to happen. My guess is we still wouldn’t know about this particular incident if the victim’s family hadn’t gone to the media.
In any event, we’ve experienced the same issues with some schools in our patrol areas. Many would rather handle crimes as “school violations” instead of notifying the police and having charges placed on the student. This goes on more than you realize. Schools, like most institutions that rely on public support for funding, do not want to look bad or admit they have problems for fear that their next bond issue or tax increase might not pass. One only needs to look at my local district (Rockwood) for proof.
There was a time a few years ago when we had to threaten a local school superintendent and principal with prosecution under the Missouri Safe Schools Act for failing to report acts of violence in their school to police authorities. They didn’t take us seriously until we brought a prosecutor to the school to let them know we (and the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office) meant business. Things have gotten much better in that district since then. I saw the same resistance from some districts when we started our heroin initiative in 2010 and asked to hold Town Hall meetings in school auditoriums. One local district chastised me for even suggesting that schools were in denial about their drug problems.
Serious crimes like the one at Meramec happen infrequently. That’s a good thing. The bad part of handling crimes infrequently is knowing what to do with them when they happen (see Ebony Jackson murder case). My suggestion would be to turn over any felony crime that occurs on the Meramec campus to the Kirkwood Police. They are effective, professional and investigate a lot of felony crimes. They also are not beholden to image-conscious bosses at the campus.