Police in Minnesota town move into schools
One small-town Minnesota school district is taking a unique approach to keeping students safe: The police are moving in.
In Jordan, south of Minneapolis, officials looking at school security after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut decided the police would set up satellite offices in public schools. Officers will conduct some of their daily work from the schools, including taking calls and filling out paperwork, while still going out into the community to patrol or respond to emergencies. The hope is the armed officers, with their squad cars in school parking lots, will discourage — or meet — any would-be attackers.
Jordan schools haven’t had an attack or a problem with violence. But the plan proposed by the police chief received unanimous approval from the City Council and the school board, and it seems to have the backing of parents and school administrators.
"Sandy Hook had everything in place security-wise, they really did. But what they didn’t have was a trained, armed officer at the front door," said Jordan Elementary School Principal Stacy DeCorsey. "We will have that the majority of the time."
Schools across the U.S. have been looking at security after the attack at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., that left 20 children and six workers dead. The National Rifle Association called for putting armed guards in schools. President Barack Obama proposed more funding for counselors and school resource officers, whose primary assignment is to work in schools. Some districts hired retired officers. One Colorado district asked officers to write reports from their squad cars in school parking lots.
Many schools already have police officers assigned as resource officers to promote community programs, and some of them have offices in schools. But Jordan’s idea to relocate its city police duties to a school is unusual. Police and school officials acknowledge the idea might not work for larger communities. But they believe it could make a big difference for this town of about 5,600 people that’s about a 45 minute drive from Minneapolis. The district has about 1,800 students and all of its school buildings are on one campus.
"These attacks have been going on for years and still no one has provided any hope of relief," Chief Bob Malz wrote in a Dec. 27 letter to school officials. "Sometimes the best answers come when we stop listening to everyone else and take it upon ourselves to make common sense decisions based on what is right for the safety of our children in our own community. ... It’s time for change."
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