Cody Chitwood apparently loves fishing. He says he fishes once a week, sometimes twice a week. What he probably didn’t think about, however, is that his fishing supplies were considered weapons, and were therefore not allowed inside his school’s “safety zone.” Weapons like knives used to scale and gut fish.
Officials at Lassiter High School in Cobb County, Georgia have police perform drug searches in the parking lot once or twice a year using drug-sniffing dogs. When they came to Chitwood’s ’98 beamer, the drug dog alerted probably due to black powder residue found from some left over July 4th firecrackers. That was enough for them to search the entire car, which turned up a tackle box in the trunk containing three knives. There was also a butterfly knife in the driver side door pocket.
The Marietta Daily Journal reported:
“I enjoy fishing. I go fishing probably once a week, sometimes twice a week,” said Chitwood, who has been suspended for 10 days by Lassiter Principal Chris Richie. “I just forgot that it was in there. I had my fishing poles in the car, too.” He was charged with carrying a weapon in a school safety zone, which is a felony in Georgia. Chitwood said that no drugs or other contraband were found in his car. School officials do not talk about individual disciplinary cases but zero-tolerance laws are strictly enforced. The random K-9 searches of student parking lots are done at least once or twice a year at all Cobb high schools. “The cop and the administrators, they basically told me, ‘You’re going to be in a lot of trouble,’” Chitwood said. “They were pretty nice, but the K-9 unit guy wasn’t really very nice.” Chitwood said the campus officer and the administrators told him, “Instead of making a scene out of you, we’ll put a warrant out for you and you can turn yourself in at the jail.’” He turned himself in Sept. 18 and was released later the same day after posting bond of $1,000 plus $320 in fees.
Seventeen-year-old Chitwood had hopes of joining the Air Force after high school, but with a felony on his record, that could prove problematic to say the least. Now his parents have had to hire a lawyer to represent their son to see if they can get the felony charge dropped. If he’s prosecuted and convicted, he could face anywhere from 2 to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. All because he left his fishing supplies in his car at school.
Georgia’s considered a “red” state. But I don’t know what that even means anymore. Red as in Red China?