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Jamestown stations police inside schools

Armed Jamestown Village Police Officers will be stationed at schools in the Greeneview Local School District starting this week to protect students and staff, said the Joe Parish, the school district superintendent.

The Greeneview Board of Education made the decision to have one police officer at each of the district’s three schools following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut on Dec. 14, Parish said. The shooting claimed the lives of 20 first-graders and six adults.

“We felt that because of the incident there, we would be proactive and have an officer in there in case someone came in to protect students and staff,” he said.

The board did not hold a public hearing on the new measure, however parents were notified on Friday that officers would be stationed at the schools starting Monday.

Parish said there were concerns that parents were not notified sooner, but he said the announcement was delayed to avoid alerting anyone who could have been planning to attack one of the buildings.

“There’s no eminent danger,” he said. “We feel that we have as good of a safety plan as any school district, but Sandy Hook probably felt the same way.”

Law enforcement officers at the schools is expected to cost the district about $75,000 per year, according to the superintendent.

The board’s decision to station police inside the schools is the most recent example of increased school security. Butler County deputies started making daily stops at 30 area schools in their jurisdiction this week.

The Ohio Attorney General’s Peace Officer Training Academy and the Ohio Department of Education has held training sessions for law enforcement officers and educators to help them develop plans to respond to school shootings. Plans for the training sessions were initiated after the school shooting in Chardon last year and the demand for them spiked after the Sandy Hook shooting, according to the attorney general’s office.

The attorney general’s office didn’t comment specifically Jamestown, but has said hiring police officers to work in schools is a decision for local school boards.

“I think it’s a good idea,” said 33-year-old Kurk Garringer, the father of twin boys, age 7, and a daughter, age 6, who attend Greeneview Elementary School. “I think it’s sad that it has come to this point and that it is something that needs to be worried about at this point.”

The Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy struck a close to home with the Garringer. He is friends with a family that had children inside the school at the time of the shooting.

“If there had been a guard present or police present at that time, you would hope that it wouldn’t have been as bad as it turned out,” he said.

With a student enrollment of approximately 1500 students, the district employs over 100 certified and 70 classified staff.

Krissi DeHaven, a 38-year-old Jamestown mother of two boys who attend Greeneview Elementary, said her children told her having an officer at their school made them feel safe.

“It is a good thing they are offering there,” she said. “It’s a day and age where we have to have something like that.”

The police department has hired five part-time officers bumping the force to 15, said Chief Rodger Tyree.

Officers will work at the school on a rotating basis.

“These officers have one duty,” Tyree said. “That is the security of the faculty and the student body and the property in the building,” explaining how the role would differ from a school resource officer.

The police chief and superintendent discussed and ruled out other alternatives such as arming teachers or keeping weapons inside a safe box in the schools, Tyree said.

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