RIDGELAND — A recent encounter between officers of the Ridgeland Police Department and teenagers brandishing BB guns is part of a growing problem that Police Chief John Neal said is “alarming to the law enforcement community.”

Neal issued a press release on Friday, along with dash cam footage of officers approaching three youth while out on patrol. 

“As the officer watched the group, he observed one of the individuals raise their arm and it appeared the person was holding a firearm,” Neal said. “The officer approached the subjects and as he exited the patrol unit to speak with them, he requested the young male subject display his hands.”

It was at that time, Neal said, the male displayed what appeared to be a black handgun. Officers told the teen to drop the gun, which he did, and another teen removed a gun from his pants pocket. A third individual, the sister of one of the teens, was also secured. 

Neal said the two male subjects, age 15 and 16, were carrying CO2-powered BB guns. They were later released to their guardians with no charges filed. 

“The increase in juveniles carrying firearms, whether a BB gun or pistol, revolver, shotgun, etc. is alarming to the law enforcement community,” Neal said. “The complacency and lack of concern by young individuals/groups who feel the necessity to carry an object of this nature without worry of the repercussions for their actions is of great concern.”

Neal said there have been incidents nationwide where officers have shot and killed teens with BB guns. 

“The officers who serve and protect on the streets of not only our community but across the nation are faced with split second decisions which have long lasting consequences for all parties,” he said. “The results of this encounter, while in this instance, had a favorable outcome we would be negligent in our commitment to the community and protecting our citizens if we did not offer education on the encounters law enforcement officers face.”