Three Douglas County, Georgia, deputies are facing disciplinary action after they left a .22-caliber revolver on the playground of an elementary school following a K-9 demonstration Monday.
Two Mt. Carmel Elementary School students later discovered the gun and immediately informed the school staff. The students acted appropriately in reporting the matter and never touched the gun, which was taken to the office by a teacher.
The school was briefly placed under a code yellow caution alert, and the sheriff’s office returned to the school to do a full sweep. No other objects were found, no one was injured, and an automated call went out to parents informing them of the incident.
Col. Jeff Nalley with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office explained to a local NBC affiliate that the gun, which is always only loaded with blanks, was brought to the school as part of a K-9 demonstration. While wearing a protective suit, one of the deputies will fire blanks from the gun into the ground, then drop the gun. The act is used to show students how the K-9 unit is used to help fight crime in the field.
“We retrieve everything that we’ve got there and take it back and account for it. This day, that didn’t happen,” Col. Nalley said. “We made a mistake.”
Nalley said the deputies who do the demonstration are very dedicated and they’re looking into why protocol wasn’t followed on that particular day.
“We just have to apologize to the students and the parents of Mt. Carmel Elementary,” Col. Nalley told WSB-TV. “We just hope nothing like this ever happens again and try to make some safeguards tonight and tomorrow to prevent anything like this from occurring in the future.”
Nalley said the demonstration is performed 50 to 75 times each year and this was the first time an incident of this nature has occurred. Nonetheless, he confirmed that the deputies involved will face disciplinary action.
According to Nalley, the Douglas County K-9 unit is well-known and considered to be one of the best in the state and around the country, but an incident like this leaves the entire department with a “black eye.”