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GRPS safety officer who helped confiscate guns at school: ‘We overcame it’ | #schoolsaftey

The Grand Rapids Public Schools Public Safety Awards Banquet on June 13, 2023.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A safety resource officer for Grand Rapids Public Schools shared the struggles Burton Middle School faced after two guns were found on campus in the past year.

“The only struggle we really had was students were fearful with the incident we had,” Milagros Hernandez said.

Hernandez, also known as “Millie or “Mom” for short, is one of the school’s lead security officers who helped confiscate the guns.

During an awards ceremony Tuesday evening, she was honored with a merit award for helping to keep students safe.

Hernandez said it was hard for students to get past the incident but the school overcame it together.

“We’re actually there to help them, you know, overcome that fear,” she explained.

In January, a loaded gun was found in the backpack of a student after a parent contacted the school.

Then, in October, another weapon was found when a security officer confiscated an unloaded gun, a magazine and ammunition.

“Was I scared? Yes, I was,” said Hernandez. “My first time ever having to deal with a situation like that, but we overcame it and we pushed on with it.”

Larry Johnson, director of public safety for GRPS, said Hernandez is one of the district’s top officers.

“Millie picks up the phone 24/7 if we call her,” said Johnson. “When her shift ends, Millie doesn’t end. … She has a pulse on her finger of what goes on in the community, and so Millie is able to relay some of that information back to us as well.”

During Tuesday’s ceremony, News 8 asked Johnson about the district’s backpack ban, which was put into place after two more guns were found on students at different schools after the incidents at Burton.

The ban stayed in place through the end of the year.

“We had a great closing, one of our best closings ever,” Johnson said. “The backpack ban had no impact on the closing of school. Our parents adjusted. Our scholars adjusted very well. And what we owe it them now is a continued conversation on our next steps.”

Johnson said they are still deciding whether the backpack ban will continue into the next school year. He also said the district will hold another community forum this month.

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