River Valley Schools Discuss Ways to Improve Campus Safety
School safety has been at the forefront of many people’s minds after a school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut on Dec. 14 claimed the life of 26 people – including 20 elementary students.
Local students returned to classes Monday after winter break. During the holidays, the Alma School District hosted a meeting for its staff to discuss safety.
Ronnie Newton, Assistant Superintendent for the Alma School District, said that in addition to reviewing the schools’ door locks and entry points, the staff discussed the need for additional school resource officers.
The armed officer is often employed by both the school district and the local police department. They discourage intruders from trespassing on campus, and they build relationships with students.
The Alma schools currently share one resource officer between its four campuses. The staff would like a full-time officer at each school.
“That’s something we’re seriously going to explore,” said Newton.
Greenwood Police Chief Will Dawson said the shooting in Connecticut prompted the department and school district to reevaluate how they utilize their school resource officers.
In addition to patrolling school grounds and sporting events for the five campuses, the Greenwood school resource officers also routinely worked as crossing guards to deter people from speeding in school zones.
“Anybody that would just observe the school for a couple days could see that the officer was off-campus, and that would be a good time to do something,” said Chief Dawson.
The department and school district now strive to change the officers’ schedules so their locations are less predictable.
“I know it can happen here just as well as it can happen anywhere else,” said Chief Dawson. “I just want to make sure that we’re prepared to respond in the most effective way.”