In the wake of Sandy Hook, there have been a number of suggestions on how to best address safety in our schools. Those suggestions have ranged from arming teachers and principals to paying for armed security guards for each building. As a building level administrator, the last thing I want in our building is an untrained person toting a weapon around. And, as I indicated earlier, I would want nothing short of having a police officer fill that role, because they have been trained to both handle the weapon properly and with handling crisis situations. My district, Newton-Conover City Schools has found an option that perhaps allows that to happen without adding an enormous amount of costs to our already tight budget. (Check out the press release here.)
My district chose to bring a police presence into each of the elementary school buildings by partnering with the Newton Police Department and by providing office space for police officers in our elementary schools. While no specific officer is assigned to these offices, any police officer may stop at the school at any time and use these offices for completing administrative tasks.
Newton Chief of Police, Don Brown, had this to say about the partnership, “We feel the presence of police officers will provide another layer of security for the schools and its students. This partnership is an opportunity for the city and the schools to work together to strengthen our community.”
Regarding this innovative solution, Newton-Conover Associate Superintendent Dr. David Stegall added, “Having police officers on campus will enhance the security measures that are already in place. Additionally, students will get the opportunity to interact with the police officers, which will encourage responsible behavior as they grow up.”
Solving the school security issue takes more than just looking for cheap, quick solutions. Those kinds of solutions only bring about even more problems. To address school safety, we need the combination of thinking outside-the-box and partnerships with our community and civic organizations.