The weapons-at-school hysteria generally peaks with a suspension. Not so for a high school student in Georgia who is facing felony charges because the contents of a tackle box in his car.
17-year-old Cody Chitwood was busted during a random sweep of the Lassiter High School parking lot by police and this student who has never been in trouble before now faces prosecution, large fines, prison time, and the loss of his plans to join the Air Force in the future due to a hysterical overreaction that has resulted in his arrest.
Cody Chitwood, 17, is a senior at Lassiter High School, and an avid fisherman.
He went fishing at his favorite spot, Mountain Park off Highway 92 and Mabry Road several days before and left his two fishing poles and tackle box in his car.
Little did he know that Lassiter administrators would order a K-9 search of the parking lot on Sept. 17 and a dog would hit on his car.
The dog apparently picked up a scent of black powder because Chitwood also had several firecrackers in his trunk, left over from a Fourth of July celebration. That was enough for police to order a thorough search of his 1998 BMW 328i.
They found four knives, all of them with blades of at least 2.5 inches, according to the arrest warrant. Three of them, including a fillet knife and a spring-assisted knife, were inside his tackle box in the trunk. A butterfly knife was found inside the pocket of the driver’s side door.
“I enjoy fishing. I go fishing probably once a week, sometimes twice a week,” said Chitwood, who has been suspended for 10 days by Lassiter Principal Chris Richie. “I just forgot that it was in there. I had my fishing poles in the car, too.”
He was charged with carrying a weapon in a school safety zone, which is a felony in Georgia. (source)
Now Cody’s parents bear the financial responsibility for paying an attorney to fight the ridiculous charges. If Cody is prosecuted, he could face anywhere from 2 to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine…for having a loaded tackle box.
This hardened criminal – a kid who spends his time outdoors fishing instead of sitting at home playing violent video games or going out and smoking dope and drinking beer under the bleachers may be witnessing the destruction of his bright future – all because a group of administrators can’t be bothered to look at each situation individually.
Like all generalizations, “zero tolerance” policies are for lazy, unintelligent people who do not trust themselves to think critically about each individual situation. As well, a blanket policy makes it far easier to relinquish responsibility for actually making a decision based on the events and the people involved, and allows agendas to be pushed while freeing the enforcers of those agendas to say, “My hands were tied – we have a ‘zero tolerance’ policy.”
“Zero Tolerance”: It’s just code for “Zero Critical Thinking Skills”.