School Business Affairs January 2019

10 JANUARY 2019 | SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS SAFE AND SECURE SCHOOLS Campus Police: A Staple of Security Measures The positive contributions of one district’s full-time police force. By Rob Loeber “ W hat are you doing to keep my child safe?” That’s a question that school administrators hear with increasing regularity. Since the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School sparked nationwide panic, more than 215,000 students in at least 217 schools have experienced a shooting on campus during school hours, according to a recent Wash- ington Post report. School shootings have occurred in 36 states, killing at least 141 students, school employees, or family members. In 2018 alone, two of the five deadliest school shootings since Columbine occurred in Santa Fe, Texas (10 deaths), and Parkland, Florida (17 deaths). In the aftermath of these incidents, school districts are forced to reevaluate their safety protocols. And many are considering creating their own campus police forces. At Jenks Public Schools, a suburban district near Tulsa, Oklahoma, with approximately 12,400 students, a full- time campus police department has been a staple of security measures for more than two decades. “The biggest advantage to having our own Jenks Campus Police Department is officers who focus solely on the safety of our students and staff members,” Super- intendent Stacey Butterfield says. “In the event of an emergency, we are not dependent solely on outside agen- cies from the city or the county. Assistance is available immediately.” Response time is critical. Research from the Depart- ment of Homeland Security indicates that the average school shooting lasts 12 minutes, whereas the average police response time is 18 minutes. Officers dedicated to school sites and school districts can take action much faster than their counterparts in local law enforcement. With a consistently high level of vigilance and proxim- ity to school sites during working hours, the presence of campus police officers can mean the difference between lives saved and lives lost. “I believe perception is important to parents,” says Jason Smith, chief of the Jenks Campus Police Depart- ment. “Not only do our officers ensure a quick response time to any incident, but when our officers are visible, parents feel more at ease. When we repeatedly say that the safety of our students is our number one priority, our actions need to match those words. With a dedicated police department and the presence of officers on a daily basis, we build trust with our stakeholders and we’re able to send a clear message to those who may wish to bring violence to our schools.” Creating Climate Although efficiency and visibility are obvious advantages for districts with campus police forces, the role that cam- pus officers play in supporting a safe and secure learning Officer Edwards of the Jenks Campus Police Department offers positive encouragement to the district’s students. PHOTO COURTESY OF JENKS PUBLIC SCHOOLS