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Weapons charges prompt policy review

A recent incident has administrators looking at weapons laws and trying to protect the safety of students on campus.

Two weeks ago, Robert Erik Haggard, 19, was arrested for the possession of weapons on campus.

According to the police report, Officer Jeffrey Bulakowski and Sgt. Sandy Thompson were patrolling the north paved lot of Jobe Hall when they noticed suspicious activity at a parked truck.

Officers approached two male subjects standing around a truck. Inside the truck, officers found a loaded revolver, a shotgun, and several knives. The truck was later identified as Haggard’s.

Police arrested Haggard and transported him to Putnam County Jail where he was booked.

 “I cannot comment if the student is still on campus, but I can say that in situations in the past, the student was removed from the University,” Ed Boucher, dean of students, said.

The student handbook states that weapons are not allowed on property owned or operated by Tech.

State law prescribes a maximum penalty of six years imprisonment and a fine not to exceed $3,000  for having weapons on school property. Violation of this law is a felony. Even individuals with handgun permits may not bring handguns on property owned or operated by Tech.

“When a situation like this happens, I have to meet with my behavioral and intervention team for quick action,” Boucher said.

The behavioral and intervention team meets every Thursday to discuss student safety on campus.

The team is made up of the dean of students, the director of Residential Life, the chief of University Police, the director of the Counseling Center, and Disabilities Services.

The team is currently considering this recent incident and trying to find a way to alert more students about the laws on campus.

“I am considering putting more signs up about firearms and other weapons on campus to make students more aware of the matter,” Boucher said.

In Residential Life, monthly safety and health checks are done throughout the residence halls to make sure residents are living a safe and healthy lifestyle.

“We want our residents to feel like this is their home,” Andrew Moneymaker, Residential Life coordinator said. “We want them to feel safe and not worry about weapons or problems in the dorms.”

University Police is also concerned with student safety but new changes are not currently slated to take effect.

“With this situation, I think there was no evil intent there,” Boucher said. “He was just at the wrong place at the wrong time.”

The Tennessee Board of Regents recently asked schools to send in a copy of their handbooks.

“They asked us for a copy, because they want to make one general handbook for all TBR schools instead of having individual ones for each school,” Boucher said.

The wording for the firearms and other dangerous weapons will soon read, “any possession of or use of firearms, dangerous weapons of any kind, or replica/toy guns, e.g. BB guns, pellet guns, paintball guns, water guns, cap guns, toy knives or other items that simulate firearm or dangerous weapons are not allowed on school property.”

“The new wording is forthcoming, but we do not know as of now when it will be put into effect,” Boucher said.