Richmond County Board of Education (BOE) Police Chief Alfonzo Williams is speaking out about the two elementary students who walked away from campus Monday.
“If my kid and another kid can walk off, who can walk in and take a kid without anybody's knowledge?” asks Mary Ellen Allen, the mother of Mahkyah Ochoa, one of the boys who left the campus of of Glenn Hills Elementary School.
More than 24 hours later, Allen is still upset about her 10-year-old son being able to walk away from school. Even though school officials aren't exactly sure how the students slipped out of the school without anyone noticing, they are sure in their response to the situation.
“I don't think we would change what we did,” Williams says.
Williams, who is the new Richmond County BOE Police chief, says despite reports from Monday, they did call the Richmond County Sheriff's Office to help search for the boys. He says there were between 3-4 deputies and 2 BOE officers on the lookout. He says they never had reason to believe Mahkyah and the other boy were in danger.
“I wouldn't consider them as missing. These were 2 juveniles that, without permission, left the school, I believe they were in a controlled area, that controlled area was surrounded by law enforcement,” Williams says.
“They chased them, so they didn't look contained to me,” Allen says.
Allen and her sister found the boys, but Chief Williams says it was part of a collaborative effort between the 2 law enforcement agencies, students, faculty, and the family. “We've learned that, obviously, that when we use our resources, the result will be positive,” he says.
But, Allen doesn't feel like enough was done to both prevent her son from walking away from campus, nor in finding the boys. She hopes new policies are put in place soon. “I feel sorry for other people's children, I feel sorry for other families because you don't know what's going to happen,” she says.
Chief Williams says they will continue working with the Richmond County Sheriff's Office, saying that he and former BOE Chief Patrick Clayton…who now is chief deputy of the Sheriff's Office…have a gentlemen's agreement to help each other's agencies out.
School Superintendent Dr. Frank Roberson says they are still looking at this situation to see if any policy changes need to be made.