Ga. student faces felony charges for having fishing gear in car while at school

Katie LaPotin, Red Alert Politics, October 3, 2013

It appears that there’s no break to the insanity behinds schools’ zero tolerance policies for guns and other weapons, as now a Georgia high school student has been charged with a felony because he had his fishing gear in his parked car while on school grounds.

Cody Chitwood, a 17-year-old student at Lassiter High School in Cobb County, Ga., was charged with the felony of bringing weapons into a school zone last month after police found fishing knives in a tackle box in his car. Police found the tackle box while performing a random sweep of parked cars at the high school; drug-sniffing dogs detected black powder in Chitwood’s car that turned out to be residue from a firecracker that had been in the car since Independence Day.

Chitwood, an avid fisherman, ultimately turned himself in and was released on a $1,000 bond, according to The Daily Caller

His arrest came just weeks after a student at a nearby high school became the subject of a warrantless searchafter a fellow student told a campus police officer he or she saw smoke rising from the student’s car. Upon searching 18-year-old Allatoona High School senior Andrew Williams’ car, an assistant principal at the school didn’t find any marijuana but did find a pocket knife in the center console – resulting in a 10-day suspension and possible expulsion, along with felony criminal charges, for Williams.

Fortunately, this incident has encouraged some legislators in the Georgia State Legislature to reevaluate zero tolerance policies and excessive prosecutions of weapons violations in the state’s schools.

“The public expects the same good common sense they use every day of their lives to apply to the laws of our state, and we as legislators seek nothing less,” Republican state Rep. Ed Setzler said in a statement to The Marietta Daily Journal. “We’ll inspect the current state of the law, but our school leaders don’t like it, our law enforcement doesn’t like it, and we’re finding out the citizens who understand the current state of the law certainly don’t like it.”

Setzler also told the Daily Journal that his biggest problem with the law as it stands is that it doesn’t require a person to have any criminal intent to be in violation.

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