MISSOULA – A Missoula school resource officer is on paid administrative leave after the Missoula County Sheriff’s deputy left their duty weapon in a school faculty bathroom.
Missoula County Sheriff T.J. McDermott reported on Friday he was notified of a serious safety incident at a Missoula County school where an SRO left a weapon in a faculty bathroom earlier that day.
Missoula County Public Schools Spokesperson Hatton Littman confirms the gun was not found in a MCPS bathroom. Undersheriff Rich Marcelli would not release the name of the specific school, but said the incident happened at one of the independent Missoula County Public Schools, which is not affiliated with MCPS. The deputy who was placed on leave is the only resource officer of the independent districts.
Marcelli says the weapon was left alone for a brief period of time before it was discovered by a faculty member.
McDermott said it is in the best interest of all parties involved to place the deputy on administrative leave until the conclusion of an internal investigation.
“This was an unfortunate incident and we are thankful that no one was hurt,” McDermott said. “We are committed to school safety and value our school partnerships. We plan to do a thorough investigation and upon conclusion will notify the appropriate parties of which course of action will be taken.”
The MCSO restarted their SRO program for the independent school districts last fall, but the program is now on hold. Marcelli says the deputy who had been serving as the SRO requested a transfer a couple weeks ago and that they are currently trying to fill the position.
Deputies will be stopping by schools to help fill in for the unstaffed SRO position in the meantime.
-Augusta McDonnell reporting for MTN News