What was intended to be a seemingly harmless photo opportunity has sparked backlash in the community of Plainfield, Indiana – a township outside of Indianapolis.
A collection of Plainfield High School football players assembled on Saturday for an outreach event held by Indiana State Police on school campus. At the gathering’s conclusion, 15 seniors for the football team assembled to take a picture on the back of an armored vehicle. One player held a sign reading “CHAOS 2014,” while some of his teammates clutched non-lethal weapons such as tear gas and beanbag launchers.
After the photograph was posted online, parents commented on safety concerns over students holding weapons on school grounds. The Hendricks County school board issued the following statement.
We take very seriously the district’s policy regarding any weapon on school property. Our office was not made aware of this photo op ahead of time, nor had we approved it,” Plainfield Community Schools Superintendent Scott Olinger said in a statement. “We highly respect the State Police and the work they do. However, since this was an event that involved crowd control devices, it needed to be vetted by our staff through our offices. As a result, the district is clarifying its policy to all staff regarding prior approval for any activity on school property.”
The State Police have also responded to parents’ concerns, assuring the community that student safety was never in jeopardy. However, much like the school board, Captain Dave Bursten stated that the department will review its protocol for outreach events to prevent any similar future situations.
“The district has shared its concerns with us,” Bursten said in a statement. “The Indiana State Police is reviewing its protocol on future community outreach events to ensure all parties understand the scope of our participation and what police equipment may be displayed or handled by the public in the presence of our personnel.”