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The following information distributed this week by the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) offers a safe, common-sense alternative to arming school employees in order to deter violent acts against students.
Since the Sandy Hook tragedy, districts everywhere have been scrambling to upgrade safety measures at elementary schools. Those still working at it may want to consider a simple, yet effective and inexpensive approach adopted by police and school officials in Douglas County, Colorado. Their solution: Have police officers on patrol do their arrest reports and other paperwork in school parking lots, rather than simply pulling off the road or returning to the police station. It’s had an immediate calming impact at a time when the nation is embroiled in the emotional debate over gun control and gun violence. “Instead of sitting underneath a bridge somewhere and doing a report or out in a field, just go to the school parking lot, do your information, it’s downloaded immediately, and all is well,” said Douglas County Sheriff David Weaver. To help police work from elementary school lots, the school district offers Wi-Fi that’s faster than the cellphone Internet used by computers in patrol vehicles. Officers also have an open invitation to eat free in the school cafeterias, courtesy of the district. “It’s just really nice and the kids love it,” said one elementary parent. “They are like super heroes.”
Other measures being considered in the district include having armed plainclothes officers at schools, and installing remote-control door-locking systems to keep any potential gunman boxed inside a confined area. But the parking lot initiative was a simple idea that had an immediate impact. A local newspaper offered editorial kudos to the school district and the sheriff’s office for creating a mutually beneficial way to beef up security at the district’s elementary schools. “This is a good example of the kind of innovative and cooperative programs needed to help keep kids safe in school,” Longmont Times-Call editors wrote.
Source: NSPRA This Week, 2.19.13. NSPRA This Week is sent to members by the National School Public Relations Association.