LEE COUNTY, Fla.- A new report shows the prevalence of guns, drugs and gangs in Lee County schools. Lee County has some of the highest drug use among students in Florida school districts of similar size.
The report from the 2012 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey shows all major U.S. gangs- The Latin Kings, Bloods and Crips are represented in Lee County schools. There are also about six local gangs represented.
The survey shows about 5% of students say they carried a handgun in the past year, 13.3% used marijuana in the past 30 days, almost 6% sold drugs in the past year and about 3.3% had been gang members.
School security director Patrick Hayhurst says the numbers don't surprise him, but he wants them lower. "Even one weapon, one bag of marijuana is too much to me," he says.
He says gangs are a problem in Lee County, but he doesn't believe gang activity is happening on campus. "I don't think the gangs operate in the schools but out of 8500 students, yea you're bound to have some who are in gangs."
Hayhurst says the survey relies on students telling the truth, and does not sample everyone. He says less than 1% of students have actually been arrested for having a weapon on campus.
School officials also note the majority of Lee County students 'do the right thing' and do not engage in this type of behavior.
He says the best way to fight the trend is to put a school resource officer on every campus. Sheriff Mike Scott agrees. Right now, there is an officer on every middle school and high school campus, but 10 rotate among the district's elementary schools.
The sheriff's office will present the survey findings to school board members at Tuesday's meeting.