Hopson Says MPD Refused To Respond To Schools Post Merger

(Memphis) Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dorsey Hopson says Memphis Police Department leaders have told him their officers will not respond to school incidents since the merger of the two school systems.

Thursday a gun, brought to school by a 5-year-old, went off at Westside Elementary School.

Hopson says police were alerted right away, but police say it took about 40 minutes to be told a gun had gone off.

Hopson, “MPD is wrong. They didn’t get the call at 8:20 a.m. they got it within minutes.”

Hopson says he has been told by ‘high ranking MPD officials’ that schools must contact the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.

After the Thursday incident, Hopson instructed schools to call both the sheriff and MPD.

As Hopson was making his statements at an afternoon press conference, an SCS spokesperson said Memphis Police had just told them they will respond to all but 15 schools where the sheriff’s office already has a presence.

Hopson says he feels the incident Thursday was handled well and praised the principal.

The following is a timeline of Hopson’s comments:

5:35 – “The phone call was made to MPD in a matter of minutes. The report was that a gun was in school. They didn’t respond.”

5:47 – “I think it’s important for the public to know that the MPD has taken a position that says the schools are now county buildings, that they are not going to respond to them.”

6:00 – “We’ve had a number of instances where we’ve made calls to MPD and they say they’re not going to respond.”

6:23 – “The initial call said gun in school , the initial call was not that the gun had been fired. There was indication that the gun was in the school.”

6:32 – “I think that common sense would dictate if you hear about a gun in school, you immediately go out to the school.”

7:04 – “It’s much quicker for security personnel to get in contact with MPD than call 911. Protocol is to call security, and then we have a direct line to the police department.”

7:33 – “Over the past two or three weeks, sometimes they come out, sometimes they don’t.”

7:37 – “Let me just say the sheriff’s office has been absolutely wonderful…They have picked up the slack.”

7:44 – New protocol to call both law enforcement agencies.

7:51 – I’m a little bit concerned both for the safety of our kids, not necessarily in schools but outside of schools because of this practice or this position that MPD has taken.”

8:03 – There was a 7-year-old yesterday who was waking home school, something happened to him, parents called the school, the school called the police. The police said we don’t have jurisdiction…(so we) called the sheriff’s.”

8:19 – When you have a 7-year-old child out there, the response shouldn’t be don’t call us, call someone else.”

8:26 – Letter from George Little, who wanted to talk. Spoke with mayors Wharton and Luttrell.

8:53 – “We’ve been operating under the assumption that they would work this out.”

9:22 – “I don’t want to second guess what she did in the heat of the moment.”

10:10 – “Usually officers from MPD are going to be in much closer proximity…that’s a problem.”

10:38 – “I’ve had discussions where I’ve been told by high level people from MPD that we’re trying to work it out.”

10:46 – “If you look at the email George Little sent out a few weeks ago, we don’t have in our budget any money to respond to these school calls…this is now county property…the sheriff’s department responds to it.”

11:07 – “I spoke with the mayor about this very issue, his boss…the mayor told me he was working through it, Toney Armstrong and the sheriff were working through it.”

11:17 – “I’ve had a lot of conversations with the sheriff and he’s been reassuring that they are working it out.”

11:25 – “You get an email from the CEO about an incident and talk to the mayor about it and the mayor says we are working it out. I assume that the mayor is doing what he said he is going to do.”

11:43 – “We’ve had about six or seven documented incidents where the police did not come our: fights, there were situations where somebody made a threatening comment to another student and protocol is to call the police.”

MPD released a list of 15 schools, for which the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office will be the primary responder:

BTW High
Central High
Cordova High
Craigmont High
Fairley High
Hamilton High
Hillcrest High
Kingsbury High
Northside High
Overton High
Raleigh Egypt High
Ridgeway High
White Station High
Whitehaven High
Wooddale High

Schools not on this list that are located within city limits, MPD will be the primary responder for any police situations occurring on those properties.

MPD officers will respond to calls for back-up and active shooter situations at all schools
in the City of Memphis, regardless of whether or not they appear on this list.

Additionally, MPD officers will respond to calls at all schools in the city limits concerning police situations which did not occur during normal school hours or during school-sanctioned events.