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Prison gives the all-clear

FARMINGTON — The discovery of a glove and piece of material with what appeared to be blood on it just inside the fence at Farmington Correctional Center put the prison on lockdown for a time on Friday … and left schools, daycares and the police department on alert as well.

The first hint of a possible problem inside the razor wire came when Farmington High School received a call at about 9 a.m. indicating there was a “short count” at the prison just a short distance from the school. Police Chief Rick Baker said his department received a call from the prison about a potential problem with the inmate count. Police department procedure dictates that area schools are alerted to the situation once a short count is determined until all inmates are accounted for.

Angie Morfeld, spokesperson for the Missouri Department of Corrections, confirmed FCC staff did find a glove and “partial sheet” with what appeared to be blood. The two items were found on the inside of the prison fence near the laundry facility.

Farmington R-7 Assistant Superintendent Jeff Williams said the district followed their procedure manual and initiated a “lock down” of all buildings in the school system within a matter of minutes. Teachers were informed to check their e-mail for an informational update. School employees monitored main entrances.

Morfeld said a count of the several hundred inmates in the prison showed that all were present and accounted for. At least initially no one had shown up at the prison medical ward with lacerations.

Baker said once an “all clear” was given by the prison officials, the police department notified the school district. That second call came about 15 minutes after the initial call of a potential problem.

The police chief said the next step in the process, if a recount had not confirmed all prisoners accounted for, could have been to activate the city’s emergency alert warning system. As it was, the prison officials gave the “clear” call and the incident came to a peaceful end.

“Even though our students did not appear to be in any eminent danger, this incident served as a measure of the district’s level of preparedness in a true emergency,” Williams, assistant superintendent, said afterward. “Safety is a top priority; therefore, the drills conducted throughout the year help us to ensure the district is always prepared when events like this occur.”

Morfeld said an investigation is being done already to determine where the glove and partial sheet came from.

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