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First MPD officer arrived hour after gun fired

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    Friday, October 4 2013 3:43 PM EDT2013-10-04 19:43:45 GMT
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FRAYSER, Tenn. (FOX13) -

When a gun shot rang out in the Westside Elementary School cafeteria, the first call wasn't to police. It was to Shelby County Schools security.

"That's bad. You seen a gun, you see a gun, you hear a gun you need to call 9-1-1 and then ....," said Westside parent Sharon Miller.

The incident happened around 7:40 a.m. A kindergarten student had a "Saturday Night Special" RG Revolver in his backpack.

Emily Yellin, Chief of Communication for the merged school district, said it's standard practice to call school security officers first, who armed security officers.

"They took the child and the backpack to the principal's office," Yellin said. "The principal called the authorities. They called out security. They called the sheriff's department and Memphis Police. The first responders came immediately."

MORE: Gun in kindergartner's backpack discharges in cafeteria
MORE: Zero tolerance for kindergartner who brought gun to school?


But the police didn't come immediately. The first Memphis Police officer didn't arrive until an hour later. An MPD  spokeswoman said the police department received its first call from SCS at 7:53 a.m., but school security didn't mention the gunshot, only the fact that a student may have brought a handgun to school.

At 8:21 a.m., more than 40 minutes after the gun discharged inside the backpack, MPD got another call from the school system informing them of the gunshot.
 
Yellin said it's standard procedure to call school security first. They make the determination when to call the police. The school security staff members are armed, but they are not sworn law enforcement officers. They can't make an arrest or recommend criminal charges.

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton wants more details on the gunfire.  

"As many officers as we have we can, we can be there within a moments notice," Mr. Wharton said. "But if we don't get the call we can't be there."
 
The city of Memphis has been working to clarify the police department's role in the new merged county school system.

"It just undergirds our commitment to make sure that our schools are safe as possible," he said. "This is why Sheriff (Bill) Oldham and (Police) Director (Toney) Armstrong are meeting as we, they'll be meeting this week. They met last week to make sure that we have as much coverage in the schools as possible."

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