Police departments across the nation are beefing up police presence at schools, but not increasing their budgets or those of their local schools.
Having a full-time School Resource Officer (SRO) assigned to a school, especially on a regular basis at secondary schools, has long been a best practice. But following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in December of 2012, a number of police departments are assigning day shift, on-duty police patrol officers to randomly visit schools on their beat each school day.
Police school visitation programs in action
We recently saw an excellent example of this program at work by the Moon Township Police Department in Pennsylvania. During our security assessment consultation visits for Moon Area School District, we observed this program in action as officers checked in at the office at district schools at various times of the day and walked around the campus. The most impressive part of this program was the genuine interest of the officers and the consistency upon which they implemented these visits at different times on a daily basis.
In suburban Cleveland, Ohio, the Rocky River Police Department operates a similar program entitled “Cops on Patrol in Schools” in the Rocky River City School District. A local ABC-affiliate news story this week, New “Cops on Patrol in Schools” safety program is a test project in Rocky River Schools, highlights the program.
Police walk-throughs of schools builds relationships and familiarity
These programs are very valuable in providing a random daily police presence at each school in the districts where they are being implemented. The benefits to the police include increased familiarization with the school layout, and the development of relationships with staff and students, at each school they visit. School staff and students benefit by building relationships with individual officers while experiencing a heightened sense of security from the extra protective presence of officers in and around their schools.
During the past year, we have heard of more programs like these popping up around the country. While such efforts are not a substitute for having a full-time School Resource Officer (SRO) at a school, we have found these programs to be a “win-win” for both schools and police. And during times of tight budgets, every effort toward improving school security helps!
Talk with your local law enforcement and school leaders about police school visitation programs for your school-community.
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