In the wake of the Newtown, Conn., tragedy on Dec. 14 in which six teachers and 20 children were killed inside Sandy Hook Elementary School, local police departments and the Haralson County Sheriff’s Office have opted to increase their patrols at local schools.
The Tallapoosa Police Department is working closely with Tallapoosa Primary School to “create confidence for the students, faculty and staff that we’re going to be around for them,” said to Tallapoosa Police Lt. David Coy. “And that will pay off.”
Lt. Coy, a 20-year law enforcement veteran, has been visiting Tallapoosa Primary, the only school within the city limits, and establishing a distinct police presence there.
“We spend time in the halls, say hello to the students and teachers,” said Coy. “We want to provide a safe environment for our children.”
Lt. Coy said the TPD will be patrolling through the school as often as possible; however, the department cannot afford to post someone at the school full time, yet.
“We don’t have the resources at present, but we would like to place a Student Resource Officer (SRO) in the school,” said Coy. “We are exploring avenues of funding, such as grants which could pay from 50 to 100 percent of the costs,”
Principal Jentsie Johns said the police visits have had a positive effect on Tallapoosa Primary, which has approximately 500 students from Pre-K through second grade.
“Their presence helps us give reassurance that we are being proactive,” said Johns. “A police officer will serve on our school safety committee to help us address areas of security and safety.”
The Haralson County Sheriff’s Office have also stepped up their patrols of school facilities, and Sheriff Eddie Mixon says the efforts have been well received by teachers and parents alike.
“ I have been told more than once that the added presence brings comfort to the children. It is important that those of us in law enforcement are approachable by children of our community. From our CHAMPS education program to school resource officers, since taking office eight years ago, I have made building a strong working relationship with the schools in our county a priority.”
Mixon says the SO continues to maintain their resource officer at Haralson County High School and has been patrolling other schools in the county has often as possible.