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Guns on school property lead to pleas of community policing

SOUTH BEND, Ind.- A South Bend teen is home tonight, but with a looming charge over him. 17-year-old Ryan Wilson is being charged as an adult after investigators say he brought a load gun to Washington High School.

Jason Critchlow, a Washington graduate and parent of a student at South Bend Community Schools is emphasizing the community has to step up.

Critchlow, also chairman of the county’s Democratic Party says it the community has to start getting to know its children.

“There has to be someone in this child’s life, a parent, grandparent, uncle, a friend, a neighbor, someone…I’m convinced exists that could have said to them, ‘What are you doing?’”

Critchlow says his reaction to a teen allegedly bringing a gun to school is based on two roles he plays in the community.

“As a parent, it’s horrifying to think a kid brought a gun into school.”

His second role as a neighbor and community member made him ask the question “What was going through this kid’s mind?”

“Was he planning to do with it? Did he have motive? Was he there to show off to friends?” asks Critchlow. “We’re talking about a 17 year old, they’re not known for making the best decisions even when they don’t maybe have violent intents, but these days you can’t be too careful.”

17-year-old Ryan Wilson is facing one count of carrying a handgun without a license, a Level 5 felony.

According to police, he was caught with the gun in his front pocket by an officer at Washington High School.

Critchlow says enough is enough. “Someone sitting at home, saying, ‘yeah, train me on how I can reach out to the youth.’ We have people we don’t have to reinvent the wheel!”

For the future Critchlow’s hoping for community policing models, which he says South Bend PD is open to.

“The key to solving the issue of crime in our community cannot be a top down approach, that’s not going to work.”

And that’s essentially what community policing is all about, “You need to have someone that’s willing to step in and be a mentor to that person,” says Critchlow. “I think we are seeing that, but it has to come from the community, it has to come from me and you.”

Ryan Wilson is scheduled to face another judge later this month, on December 19th.

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