MEMPHIS, Tenn.– A program that pays students to help keep guns out of Memphis schools appears to be paying off, but the problem of guns in schools hasn’t gone away completely.
Buddy Chapman says since the Trust Pays program started 16 years ago, 212 guns have been removed from schools. He says giving money to students to tell what they know works and the students tell someone they trust.
“One year we got 20-something guns and of course this year, we’ve already got six,” said Buddy Chapman, founder of Trust Pays.
There were two different incidents of guns found on two students at Havenview Middle School on the week of Sept. 12.
Officers found a 9mm Smith and Wesson in the hoodie chest pocket of one student. The police report said the gun had six rounds in the magazine and the serial number scratched off.
Two days later, another student tipped off an English teacher that a student had a handgun. According to police, a .380 Ruger was found in the student’s pants. The gun belonged to that student’s mother.
And that isn’t the only school where guns are being found.
Last month at Overton High School, a tip to the principal led to a school lockdown. A student in the gym was found with a 9mm handgun loaded with 15 rounds in the clip and one bullet in the chamber.
In these cases, Trust Pay awards $200 to those revealing the gun danger.
Random metal detector checks are still supposed to be done at schools, but Chapman says guns are still getting in.
“They deterred them from bringing it in through the front door doesn’t necessarily deter it from coming into school,” he said.
He says sometimes students are bringing guns from home, especially younger students. But often they are also getting stolen guns from gangs for self-protection or to show off.
And as long as students are willing to tell — to keep their school safe — they are willing to pay. Chapman said students begin to trust officers, who then tell Chapman it’s like “turning on a spigot” of information.
“The young people, by and large, really know what’s going on,” Chapman said.
The students who give tips about guns remain anonymous and Trust Pays gives them their money discreetly.
Memphis-Shelby County Schools says their school security chief has shared with parents and students what they are doing to keep schools safe and urges parents to check what their kids are bringing to school.