Friday, June 08, 2007

"What the F**K?!?!" Wednesday

From the Roanoke Times newspaper... and including my pithy editorial comments

Firearm allegedly found on bus

A school resource officer, who was driving the bus of sixth-graders, was put on paid leave.
By Courtney Cutright 981-3345

Cpl. David Mays, a school resource officer at Staunton River Middle School, was placed on a paid administrative leave Thursday after allegedly leaving his loaded gun unattended on a charter bus, Bedford County Sheriff Mike Brown said. No, the gun was definitely there and photographs exist to prove it.
Mays, who has been employed by the county sheriff's department since 1999, also moonlights as a bus driver for Linkous Christian Tours of Bedford.
According to Brown, the incident occurred Wednesday evening at a rest stop outside Charlottesville on Interstate 64 when Mays was driving a group of sixth-graders back to Bedford from Paramount's Kings Dominion in Richmond.
"Cpl. Mays took his weapon off to go to the bathroom," Brown said. Do you really believe this? My theory is he took it off for the three hour road trip and simply forgot it. However, if I were the sheriff, I'd never say, "My officer forgot his gun with a busload of children milling around."
A chaperone and a student photographed the weapon in an unsecured compartment near the driver's seat, Brown said. The images were turned over to the sheriff's department Thursday.
The incident, which Brown called "totally unacceptable," is under investigation by the sheriff's department.
"The weapon should be secured on the officer or in an appropriate locked container," Brown said.
He also said carrying the service weapon was not in conflict with the department's policy until it left Mays' possession.
It is unknown whether the tour bus company has a policy regarding employees' use of firearms. No one from Linkous Christian Tours could be reached for comment Thursday.
"We regret what has transpired in the last 24 hours," said the school system's public information officer Ryan "Please don't sue us" Edwards. " I can also vouch for the fact that Cpl. Mays has a genuine love for children." Brown added that Mays is distraught over the incident, which was brought to the school system's attention Thursday morning.
Edwards said complaints were also presented to the school system regarding Mays' behavior on the bus. He was unsure if the complaints over the officer's behavior were brought by the same individuals who reported the unattended firearm. I think that's pretty much a given folks.
Edwards said Principal Linwood Roberts spoke to all parents who chaperoned the trip and "a majority were supportive" of the officer.
Approximately 50 sixth-graders and 10 chaperones were on the trip, in which students were being rewarded for behavior and good grades.
Mays requested the day off from the sheriff's department to take the students on the field trip, Brown said.
It was not the first occasion Mays made such a request, Brown said, and there have been no previous complaints against the deputy. [End Article]


After 36 hours of "stewing," I finally calmed down and gained a bit of perspective. Here are my thoughts on my daughter's bus ride to Kings Dominion:

1. Mays forgot his gun. Regrettable, but accidental. No responsible adult and certainly no off-duty Bedford County police officer (we've got a great police force here) would ever deliberately leave his loaded weapon on a bus filled with children.

2. No harm, no foul. I have made my peace with the gun situation. The chaperones saved the day and I literally thank God for each and every one of them.

Remember that line about, "behavior on the bus....?" That situation, separate and apart from the forgotten pistol, still makes me simmer. How did Mr. Mays, the bus driver, behave on the bus? Here's part of an the e-mail I sent to the school board, amongst others, on that subject:

  • ...Mays told the children that they were not permitted to use the bus restroom....(Note: Mays had told the children that they were not permitted to use the restroom at all during the three hour trip because he would have to clean the bathroom that night).
  • ...Mays shouted at two male students, calling them "girls" because they had to use the restroom....
  • ...Mays spent a significant amount time talking on his cell phone while driving the bus....
  • A chaperone parent on the bus told Officer Mays to keep his eyes on the road and to stop talking on his cell phone while driving.

So folks, how the hell was your Wednesday?!?!?!

Credit: The brilliant mind of Noolie created today's title, "WTFW?" She does "WTFW?" on her blog and it's great fun to read. Check her out (and please do forgive me for pirating your title this one time, Noolie).


Marianne said...

Holy shit.

Gee, and let me guess, your local news was probably running the crap about Paris 'having' to go to prison...only that didn't really happen did it....

I am so glad that no one was hurt on that outing...'paid leave' though? huh-uh, he screwed up whether by 'accidental forgetfulness' or give him a paid holiday?!?!?

Dianne said...

IT's crazy Dana..I could not believe when I read that and saw it on the news..I totally understand your concern..then to see actual conversation ..regarding his behavior which was not alluded too..other than he had exhibited bad behavior..yep..where was the school personnel?? my huge concern..I've been on many of those field trips..and trust're visible the entire time..
Keep the fire going..sounds like it needs to be stoked more.
Happy Knitting~~

Dana said...

As a retired teacher, Dianne, I value your opinion. When Andie read the article last night, she said, "Mom, this is wrong. We stopped in Charlottesville ON THE WAY TO KINGS DOMINION." That, to me, implies that after what happened on the early morning rest stop, Mays refused to make a rest stop on the way back home. In addition to that, he told the kids he wouldn't allow them to use the bus bathroom (the bus that the parents rented for the day) because he'd have to clean the bathrooms. C'MON!! The kids were in the park, eating, perspiring, playing, drinking, drinking, drinking all day, and he didn't want them to go to the bathroom. It's absurd!
It's ironic that you mentioned the school official on the bus. I originally had another portion on my blog that linked school website and the vice prinicipal who was on the bus. From what I've been able to learn, she didn't do anything, which I believe, is terrible.

Dianne said...

As a former educator/advisor for a youth org. I traveled quite frequently via bus..I would have been on that drivers butt in a NY second as well as called back to my administrator..however..sounds like there was a 'jellyfish' aboard..absolutely deplorable behavior on their part had he behaved in this manner..and had he not then said..ok use the bathroom..with my permission..I'd have suggested they use the floor..I could not have made that ride without a bathroom break**smile!!**
As they say here in the south..there's more than one way to skin a cat!!

angie Cox said...

Jeez Dana that is so scary .Never mind a loaded gun a bus driven by a guy talking on a phone is a "loaded weapon" .It is getting tough here regarding talking on phones .He should be disqualified from ever driving again .As for how furious I'd be if my son was called such things for needing a pee ...sheesh .Glad the kids were all okay.

Anonymous said...

I didn't make up WTF Wednesday; I got it from the great ladies at JenLa who, I'm sure, don't mind anyone using it.

You most definitely have a real WHAT THE F*CK post there. I'm not sure I'd be able to say no harm no foul. I'm sitting here fuming that he left his gun unattended on a bus full of kids; intentional or not doesn't matter as far as I'm concerned. He's a f*cking cop; he's not allowed the luxury of forgetting his gun. Then to hear how he acted; how can they say he has a genuine love of kids when he acts like that.

Then there's this whole thing of giving cops paid vacation (doesn't matter what they call it, it's paid vacation) while the incident is investigated! I could go on and on about that.

He should lose his job and there should be some serious investigation going on as to what that vice principal was aware of during the trip. At the very least, she should have stepped in and told the cop that he couldn't refuse to let those kids use the bathroom. That's just not healthy!

Can you tell this pisses me off? How's your daughter dealing with it?

Dana said...

Fortunately Julie, she's doing fine. Wednesday morning was a bit of a "shakeup," but due to her truly wonderful chaperone, she had a great day in the park.

I just got off the phone with Child Protective Services (D.S.S.) and I'm sad to say that there's no statute in VA for the bus driver's behavior and/or treatment of the kids. In addition to that and because Mays was the bus driver (not in the role of police officer or school resource officer during the trip), he is not regarded as a caretaker of the children. This means that CPS cannot do anything in regards to the gun issue alone (leaving aside conduct issues).

In terms of the vice principal, she cannot be investigated for failing to "protect" the kids from Mays behavior (again because his behavior was not statute-level misconduct) and she cannot be charged for failing to protect the kids regarding the gun situation because she didn't know about the gun until afterwards (which I do understand).
That's all for now.

mobishobel said...

You know, this is exactly the kind of thing I used to HATE when I was in school. Not the gun thing, but the adults-on-a-power-trip thing. Even then, I could tell when an authority figure was looking out for the students' best interest, or just being an ass. And another thing...Even if you are a cop, if you're off-duty, why bring a gun onto a bus full of CHILDREN??? That's just asking for trouble...