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Police Patrol Elementary Schools

Police officers will start patrolling inside Columbia elementary schools. Columbia police officially announced they were starting to check in with school administrators on a regular basis on campus, including elementary schools, Monday. We have been reporting new buzz-in systems and added cameras and lights around middle and high schools, even a police sub-station at a junior high. But this is the biggest change to come to elementary schools in the Columbia Public School district since the mass shooting in a Connecticut elementary that sparked concerns over school safety. A mother who is picking up her son at West Boulevard Elementary noticed the two patrol cars parked outside. At first she was alarmed, but after learning they were on regular patrols, she said “I feel much safer with them actually going in instead of just driving past the school.” Crystal Lindsey said a tragedy like the one that happened at the Sandy Hook Elementary, where a gunman shot and killed 20 first and second grade children is something she fears. The added patrols, however, helps ease her mind, ” It could happen anywhere, anytime, but with them being around more often it would most likely not happen which is a good thing, ” said Lindsey. School officials said this is part of the overall security upgrades they are making and not sparked by any one event. They do, however, admit security has not been in the level as they would like it to be, due to budget cuts. “It’s been a challenge to have additional school resource officers in our buildings. Several years ago we used to have one in every single one of our secondary buildings,” said Michelle Baumstark, spokesperson for Columbia Public Schools. The cutbacks have meant that only four school resource officers (SROs) are on staff, three at each of the high schools and one who floats around to all six middle and junior high schools– and none at elementary schools. Baumstark said since they scaled back on hiring officers, they have gotten more funding from the levy last year, but still there are not enough trained officers for the school district to hire as SROs, so the added patrols is a good ‘compromise’ the school district has with the police department. She adds that the pilot program with a police sub-station at Jeff Junior is going well so far, it’s been in place for about a month since before the winter break. The school district would like to have more of those at other schools if the pilot program takes off, said Baumstark.

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