Lockdown leaves trail of questions in its wake

Dave Mathieson
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Lockdown leaves trail of questions in its wake


AMHERST – Tuesday’s school lockdown resulted in mixed emotions for students and parents.

Peter, a Grade-12 student at ARHS wasn’t too worried about the situation.

“Somebody thought they saw somebody with a gun,” he said, preferring not to give his last name. “It was around 9:50 (a.m.) when they announced a lockdown of the school.”

Peter was in his first period biology class when the lockdown came into effect.

“We have drills every few months, so everybody was wondering if it was fake or real,” he said. “After 40 minutes or so we started to realize it was real because fake ones usually last about 20 minutes.

“We had to stay in the class for the rest of the day. It was painful.”

It was made worse by the fact students weren’t able to use the bathroom.

“If you had to go to the bathroom you had to hold it in,” he said. “We were whining about it but after about 1 o’clock or so we were allowed to use the washroom.”

Nourishment was another issue.

“If you had your lunch in the classroom then you could eat it, but we couldn’t go to the cafeteria or anything like that,” he said.

Police also checked Peter and his male classmates for weapons at about 1 p.m.

“The police came in the classroom and announced what was happening and the guys were all metal detected.”

The fact that it was only male students who were frisked has a parent of a male ARHS student very upset.

“I was ticked when I got home and found out that it was only male students being checked,” said the woman who wished to remain anonymous.  “What if there was an inside component to this and a female student was passed off something by a male?

“I was ticked that the police compromised the safety of my child today by only searching male students.”

She was out of town when she first got news of the lockdown.

“We rushed home because I wasn’t sure what the situation actually was,” she said.

Her son texted her on her cell phone and told her he was safe.

“For me, once I found out the classroom was searched I felt at ease,” she said. “But when I picked him up outside the school and learned only the male students were searched I thought, ‘Well that offered no peace of mind, I was improperly informed.’”

“Had I known only males were being checked, then nothing would be resolved because they chose to discriminate and, therefore, compromise the safety of the students.”






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Recent comments

  • we
    January 19, 2012 - 21:53

    good job police and teachers keep up the good work keep our children safe i have a son that goes there to and he said it was hot and muggy in there but they were safe 100% well done

    • milp
      January 24, 2012 - 14:48

      I would like to say thank you to the school and the police here, yes my son may have been hungry, and had to go to the bathroom and so on HOWEVER, at least he was not taken out in a body bag and I did not have to plan his funeral, so if I had to deal with some wet, smelly pants, and a thirsty (which I didn't) than I would rather do than than the alternative! GOOD ON YA!!!!

  • Chris Hartlin
    January 19, 2012 - 16:11

    For those who have such blind admiration for the APD, consider for a moment that a girl may have had a gun and shot someone. How would searching only male students have uncovered anything? This is a clear case of discrimination that proves only that the cops did not do a thorough job of searching for the alleged weapon. They missed the bigger picture; that since they were not aware of who had a gun they should have searched everyone without bias.

  • parent of student
    January 19, 2012 - 13:32

    I feel that the staff of CCRSB and the APD made the best decisions with the information they were given and handled the situation appropriately. On a negative note...I'm amazed at the people who comment and don't know how to spell!

  • Chris Hartlin
    January 19, 2012 - 07:02

    If every male student at ARHS complained to the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission about being searched based on their gender during a gun search, maybe, just maybe the Amherst Police Department could learn how to conduct a proper investigation.... but I seriously doubt it.

  • Fuzzy Bear
    January 18, 2012 - 20:02

    Normally I am quick to respond but today I had to wait to see just how many bleeding hearts out there responded about how poorly this situtation was handled by the school board and our local police force. Well guess what folks.....nothing happened which is just about perfection!! Had some lone gunman (or gunwoman to be politically correct) decide that today was the day they and they alone decided to put Amherst on the map your comments would be of an entirely diffeternt tune. Now all those nay saying people have the opportunity to second guess all the first responder decision makers. My hat is off to all those people who helped make this a complete non-event!!! WELL DONE!!!!!

  • Big A
    January 18, 2012 - 15:38

    I could understand students being upset about being locked in a room for several hours with no washroom or food. I can also understand the frustration of parents in not knowing what was going on. However, considering all that has happened with guns being brought to school, it was a necessary & only a slight inconvenience. Look at Columbine, V -Tec, even Montreal. I`m sure the parents of those students would have preferred a lock down twice as long as what the schools here had. With those schools, and so many others in mind, is really something we should be questioning??? I think not. The school board, principle & police did the right thing.

  • Daughter in High School
    January 18, 2012 - 12:12

    My daughter was in attendance while this was going on. SHE WAS NOT searched! Any female could have been searched in the same way as the boys... A hand held metal detector... A female would not be required to pass this over the girls.. Only if they found something would that be needed. Any guy could have easily passed it off until afterwards... This is discrimination at it's best!

  • sheree
    January 18, 2012 - 10:43

    I don't think people are arguing that action should not have been taken what is at issue is the degree of action taken based on what was known at the time. Based on someone reporting something on Townsend necessiatated a search of every male in a school and a full day lock down? It wasn't necessary and it was an over reaction.

  • what would ontario do
    January 18, 2012 - 10:14

    the only thing missing in these comments is the response from that guy from Ontario that tells us everything we do here in Nova Scotia is wrong...so the question is...what would ontario do???

  • Doug Letcher
    January 18, 2012 - 09:47

    Well dun Police and CCRSB Of course there will be critism and luckely the next time the female studants will not be overlooked and from what I read the mailes were serched with a medal detector . and it would not be offensive to use such with femailes . Just think how the world has turnes ..if mail or feamil were to go for an plane flight they might find it a bit more imbarsing when there is that X ray system that litterally see through your clothing ...Yes there should have bin female officers presant they sure enough of them around .. to work side by side with male in situations like this . Sum years back there was a wepons scare in another Cumberland School and it was a young lady that had brought actual wepons to School . .and loaded magnum firearms were in her posession . Soon all people entering public buildings will be serched ., Soon you won't be able to even use a credit card and you will half to have a inplanted chip under your skin to purchose goods . Sooner than you thin there will be a New world order .with a single leadre at it head ...It is all prodicted in the Bible . and you don't half to be a rocket scientest to understand this ( I just hope people are aware and learn the trouth and are spares those hard times .. I can go on but I don't like to get started on religieous isues .time and place for that ) HOW THE WORLD CHANGED SINCE THE SECOND WORLD WAR 40 YEARS AGO AS A BOY IT WAS COMMON PRACTICE AND NOT RACIAL TO RUN AROUND THE NEIGHBOURHOOD POINTING TOY GUNS AT FRIENDA WHILE WE PLAYED COWBOY AND INJINS .. OR THE OCASIONAL BB GUN FIGHT/ well until a friend lost his eye that slowed it down sumwhat..../ But even in Highschooul the 16 year olde THE BOYS would go just before Christmas from school for a 1/2 to find our class roooma tree .... of course we would sneek or 22 rifles or a 410 shotgun along for protection and the excuse to hunt rabbits ...THE GOOD OLD DAYS . Did the west win the war .. Fredom is surely an indangered spiies . In the name of parinoia what has happined to the world ..I personally am getting worried .,not by a uniformed Police Offer wearing a gun but by the Young gun toters on the street in plane clothes ..You know the Street Crime unit that wear there guns like Cowboys and inpublic without there badge showing .. More prisons they say we kneed ., more people in jail at the public expence [ yes there is a kneed for such ] but every year they are more laws written and there is more Police officers kneeded to inforce such laws .. when there were already adequit laws to cover situations ..but NOT BEING INFORCED instead of keeping it simple More Laws , More Police More Jails . .30 yrs ago for the same population there were 1/2 the cost and 1/2 the number of police for the same population .[YA times change ] Can you not see we are moving closer to that what our men and wiman fought for to protect our fredoms .What is a DICTATORSHIP ... What is Socalism .And now do we forget the fundimentals our country was built on and allow it to get out of cantrol by allowing outside peple to cum in and have there wayes over turn around proven way of life.Yes there is always room for change ., but not in such a way as to loose our idenity and respect ... Those nationalities that fled there country for bad things were hapning but wont to change here to the same ways Come on we kneed To take a lesson from the Austrailian goverment . Terroism is like a Cancer sooner of later it will show itself . The real problem lies with the trash we alow our children to watch on TV and the internet allowing it to feed our young persons minds // Fead them the ideas and sooner or later they will think that is normal and the way to go .

      January 18, 2012 - 12:49

      A BIG THANK YOU TO THE POLICE AND SCHOOL BOARD!!! Despite all of the negative responses written on here...it is much better for the students of the school to be safe and unable to have food or a washroom for a few hours...then to have a traumatic incident occur and young lives taken away. With a younger sister inside the school at the time, and an alum of the school, I believe the right precautions were taken. THANK YOU!

  • michael
    January 18, 2012 - 09:17

    I really find it hard to believe that there is so much negativity beig expressed against what was done. I am sure that there could have been some things handled differently but the most important thing was/is that the students were kept in a locked buildig and remained safe. I I think that the APD , as well as school staff, should be commended for ensuring the safety of 1000 lives. great job. Rather than bashing, you should be thanking everyone involved for keeping your kids safe. I for one am VERY proud of the way the situation was handled and controlled. BRAVO and great work.

  • High School Parent
    January 18, 2012 - 08:38

    My son is a student in ARHS and in his words" yeah it was inconvienient but from where I sat Teachers and Police did nothing wrong, in fact they did everything right I would rather be inconvienced then dead" Thank you to both school staff and police for keeping our kids safe!!!!

  • A Parent
    January 18, 2012 - 08:34

    It's a lose lose situation for school staff, school board staff, and police. Take precautions and everyone has ridicule, and a bunch of blah blah nonsense flying out of their mouths like they know better. Flip side of the coin is if the police and schools did nothing and ignored it and 10 students and teachers were killed everyone would be freaking out. So what do you want people? Let the school officials and police do their jobs and shut up. While it is unfortunate that everyone had to go through the lock down and not have immediate bathroom access, or didn't get a full lunch (they're teenagers, they probably wouldn't have eaten anything good for them anyway) it is better than possibly them getting shot or a teacher or police officer getting shot and not making it home to their loved ones. Shame on anyone who ridicules these people for doing their jobs and what the public has asked them to do in these situations. Oh and Jason, save your crazy lawyer arguments for the court room

    • Lisa
      January 18, 2012 - 10:14

      @A PARENT - totally agree with your comment.......APD & CCRSB/teachers are damned if they do, damned if they don't - on most all situations!!! One of my children was involved in this lockdown situation and I have NO complaints about the way things were handled at all! So what if she didn't use the washroom or eat until later in the day, I was kept updated only by internet sources - we all know the alternative to yesterdays situation could have been pure tragedy!

  • hello
    January 18, 2012 - 08:31

    Hello if people would read the comments before making their own comments you would see that a parent just said the females were searched as well. I know this for a fact as well. Yes I feel bad they couldnt go to the washroom or eat their lunches but wake up. If this was a real situation then do you think they would of been able to do those things? Im so glad they took all precautions and didnt assume that it was a fake situation. I want to thank the schools and all of the APD for keeping our children safe and if that takes my daughter having to hold her bladder and not being able to eat her lunch then so be it.

  • Jack On The Rocks
    January 18, 2012 - 08:25

    The only thing I have to say is to the complaining parents...You and your childrens should get over yourselves..So they couldn't eat our use the washroom..It would be really bad if they couldn't do either ever again..Great job by ALL involved...

  • Parent of HighSchool Student
    January 18, 2012 - 08:18

    One word "columbine"! Well done Amherst police & CCRSB!

  • wow
    January 18, 2012 - 07:49

    what is this townd coming to, report of someone with a gun and here we have parents complaining about the way the situation was handled, students and parents complaining because students couldn't get their lunch or water, what if the students were let out of the class room to get these items and someone was shot or injured then again the parents would be howlering about how the teachers let this happen. These people have a hard job to do in a situation like these let them do thier jobs and the 2nd guessers remain silent. Again someone with a gun with parents going to the schools to get their kids out not very smart, the kids were safer inside rather then leaving the school with their parents. With the report to the police maybe it was such that the person who reported this incident saw that the person with what they thought was a gun advised it was a male and not a female with the gun, the police and school officials then would have no legal reason to search any females, oh yes this is somehting else to whine about. It doesn't matter if it is situation like this or questionable snow day there are people who have to question every move by professionals doiong their job. Just think someone suggesting that a mass email address be maintained so the parents could be advised, three shcools 600 students, 1200 parents and email addresses, parents work, some parents with no computers, how does something like this work, oh yes lets call all the parents and advised them what is taking place. Some people should think before they critize people making well informed decision. JOB WELL DONE BY POLICE AND SCHOOL OFFICIALS

  • susan agree
    January 18, 2012 - 07:41

    agree with passed off ?

  • Jason
    January 18, 2012 - 07:02

    Better safe than sorry right? My opinion they went too far, hours upon hours of searching the school, forcing kids to stay in a classroom with no washroom break or food for hours. And then search male students only and use a metal detector. Fear seems to be what defines everything these days. Strangely no matter the level of risk no matter how small the probability over reacting is the more sensible route? I'm afraid one of these lock downs will result in a child getting killed by a either over zealous police or an over reacting parent. What are we teaching our kids? Shame on the APD and the schools.

  • parent
    January 18, 2012 - 06:41

    I am the parent of a female student, the kids were all searched not just the males. They separated males from females and searched both.

  • Johnny Local
    January 18, 2012 - 04:49

    I agree with this parent. I think it is great they were cautious and called for a lockdown. I do think it was a bit ......sloppy that all students were not frisked. Personally if I had a weapon on me and the police came in and said they were going to search all the male students....... i'm pretty sure i'd try to pass my weapon off to a female student pretty quickly.

  • Darlene Wigston
    January 17, 2012 - 23:02

    I also find it discriminatory that only males were searched. I know it can be problematic for a male officer to search a girl, but why weren't women officers called in to search females? I agree, too, that it did leave the problem of a girl having the gun and being undetected. Women can shoot too, officers. I know. I am one and used to shoot rifles with pretty good accuracy when I was in air cadets as a teen.

  • DRH
    January 17, 2012 - 21:03

    Typical of Amherst, not being able to think outside the box and discriminating against one gender, not to mention endangering everyone involved by doing so. WTG to one of the most pathetic towns around!

  • Jen
    January 17, 2012 - 20:54

    Shouldn't "piece of mind" be "peace of mind"?

  • mary lewis
    January 17, 2012 - 20:47

    I agree, all students, staff, and support staff should have been checked. Although the rumor is that it was a tall male - who knows if there was someone else involved on the inside.