Improving the Relationship between Schools and Police Officers to Improve Overall Security

By: Litsa Pappas Email
By: Litsa Pappas Email

HARRISONBURG, Va. -- Police officers and school leaders are doing a few things to make sure kids are safe at schools. One of the biggest changes will be in the relationship between police and the schools.

Harrisonburg police officers will soon have a stronger presence at the city's schools. Police Chief Stephen Monticelli said the department will have 'beat' officers who will visit the schools regularly.

"It's not just when things happen. It's on the every day thing, so the trust and the communication between the school and that beat officer will strengthen and they'll have that understanding and there won't be any hesitancy for the school to call that beat officer," said Monticelli.

That's only one change in security.

Craig Mackail is the director of operations for Harrisonburg City Schools. He said school leaders are also looking into having greeters at the entrances of all schools where the building's layout doesn't lead visitors directly into the main office.

After the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Ct, Mackail said school leaders want to make sure security is improved.

"Unfortunately in 2013, these things do happen and it's not really a wake-up call but I think it's always good to look at your procedures in place and protocols in place and what you can do to improve them," said Mackail.

He said part of improving safety is working closer with police and that's something about which Monticelli is hopeful.

"The collaboration is going to improve, I think, even more than what we already have, which I think is great,” said Monticelli, “I mentioned at the meeting that I'm very intrigued by the way the school board and the school system is addressing safety and security."

Mackail said school leaders are also looking into changing the entrances to the older schools, so all visitors have to go through the main office. He said they also plan on having a safety drill at the end of January.

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