Boston police on Wednesday recovered a firearm and arrested a student at the Community Academy of Science and Health (CASH) high school in Fields Corner.
The student allegedly brought a stolen firearm into the school. The incident, which occurred less than a week into the new school year, led to the student getting detained by the new Office of School Safety until officers from the Boston Police's C-11 precinct arrived to make the arrest.
The arrest of the 16-year-old student was made without incident, but Boston School Police — now known as the Office of School Safety and Safety Service Specialists — no longer have arrest powers as they did prior to July 1, 2021 due to somewhat unexpected stipulations within the state's Police Reform Act.
“We did have a Safety Service Specialist at the school, and we did find a firearm and the Boston Police Department was called as they would have been called if the School Safety Force had the same powers as before,” said Xavier Andrews, spokesperson for the BPS. “It’s unfortunate it was brought into the school and it was resolved and we have notified the school community.”
Boston Police reported that at 10:45 a.m. on Sept. 15, officers from C-11 responded to a radio call for a firearm found at CASH, located at 11 Charles St., and made an onsite firearm and drug arrest of a 16-year-old male.
Officers were met at the front entrance of CASH by Boston Public Safety Service Specialists who escorted officers to the main office on the second floor. Officers then spoke with the school administrators who, previous to officers’ response, conducted an administration search on the juvenile and discovered a small bag they believed to be drugs and a firearm.
Police officers conducted an inquiry on the recovered firearm, which revealed that the firearm was reported stolen from Braintree on July 24, 2019.
The juvenile will be charged with Delinquent to with Unlawful Possession of a Firearm, Delinquent with Unlawful Possession of Ammunition, Delinquent with High Capacity Feeding Device, Delinquent with Unlawful Possession of a Loaded Firearm, Delinquent with Possession of Marijuana, according to police.
The juvenile will be arraigned in Dorchester District Court.
The incident marked a change in school policing in Boston, as the longtime Boston School Police force was dissolved on July 1, with the new Police Reform Law being the reason cited for the change to be brought about quicker than some on the School Police expected.
BPS said last summer it planned to notify parents and students of the change in the School Police within its back-to-school messaging and school-site meetings, but it wasn’t immediately clear that such a notification has happened yet, though the schools have only been in session for one week.
Boston Public Schools Superintendent Brenda Cassellius and the School Committee did begin addressing the change starting at the at the May 12 and the June 16 meetings of the Committee. They implemented the change on July 1 and throughout the summer. She also addressed it at a July meeting, to amplify the change, after some media reports.
Because the new state law, which did go into effect in July 1, did not allow Special Police Officers (known as SPOs) any longer, that meant that the Boston School Police could not be certified by the BPD and needed to be dissolved and transformed into the Office of School Safety – thus losing much of their police powers. School Safety Officers do not wear police uniforms, and tend not to drive the traditional cruisers, and don’t have arrest powers or the ability to write Police Reports. Under the new configuration, they are also not allowed enforcement tools like handcuffs, and in the instance of an incident such as Wednesday’s, or any other that requires police action, they can only call 9-1-1 for a BPD response.
Andrews said the situation on Wednesday at CASH was standard operating procedure for a firearm found in a school – which is a rare occurrence at BPS. He said whether the old School Police were in effect, or the new Office of School Safety was in effect, the same response would have occurred on Wednesday.
“In terms of the work with BPS and BPD and our Safety Specialists, the School Safety Specialist focus has changed and they wear different clothes and don’t have arrest powers, but regardless we would have contacted the Police Department in past just the same way we did today.”
This story was updated at 5:40 p.m.