Atlanta Public Schools is saying little about an investigation into guns suspected stolen from the school district.
The suspected theft comes as the school district forms its own police department to replace the Atlanta Police Department officers who had patrolled local schools. District officials have said an in-house police force will give them more control over how officers are assigned and trained.
“We’ve got to be in the business of building meaningful relationships with our students, ” Atlanta school board chairman Courtney English said last year when discussing the move. Atlanta schools need “people who can build relationships without having that strict law enforcement component.”
Members of the new police force will be sworn in on Thursday.
As many as 30 .40-caliber Glock handguns are missing, Channel 2 Action News reported. The missing weapons could be worth as much as $15,000.
It is unclear why APS had guns on hand, and a district spokeswoman declined to answer questions from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Atlanta school district spokeswoman Kimberly Willis Green said only that the district’s Office of Employee Relations is “investigating the matter.”
Green declined to answer questions about how many guns are missing, how they went missing, when the loss was discovered, the value of the missing equipment or if the district reported the suspected theft to law enforcement.
Atlanta Police Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Espy said the department is assisting with the school district investigation, which was launched in response to an anonymous tip about stolen guns.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution asked the school district under the Georgia Open Records Act for basic information about how many handguns the district owns, how much they cost and who is responsible for them. In response, the school district said that handgun inventory information was obtained in the course of investigating the suspected theft, and so the district chose not to release the information. Records of open investigations can be shielded from public view under the Open Records Act.
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