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Opinion

February 10, 2013

‘30 on 30’ gives police presence in schools without expense to BOE

We believe that Marion County may have found the solution to having a police presence inside its schools without the obstacle of a major budget expense.

It’s called “30 on 30.”

The municipalities throughout the county have agreed to participate in the project — at no cost to the board of education — which brings in police offi­cers to the schools for approximately 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon.

And there are no set times once the project launches. Students wouldn’t know to expect an officer to do a walk through at a certain time each day. The presence of officers would be at any given time.

And what does that mean? It means a deterrent to drugs and weapons brought into the school. It is a deterrent for fighting and disrespect of authorities. It is a deterrent to school vandalism and violence.

It is not a perfect solution, but we do not live in a perfect world.

But on a daily basis our children will develop relationships with police officers in their own communities, one built on trust and respect, because the kids are getting face time with officers.

They no longer seem threatening, as peers have led them to believe. They will feel like they can approach the ones who wear uniforms and bear shields when something is wrong. And their presence there would have a calming effect, not just for students but for teachers, administrators and school personnel.

Initially, the BOE believed they would have to offer compensation for these officers to participate in the program.

“Every mayor that I contact­ed didn’t hesitate,” said Ray Frazier, who handles safety in the school system. “I think it’s important to develop these relationships and develop a familiarity with everybody. It’s been well received, and I think it’s going to be a very positive thing.”

Barrackville Mayor Roy Meeks told the BOE last week that the town’s officers are more than happy to donate their time toward this project.

“Our kids are precious to us, and I was immediately on board,” he said. “I think after all the things that have been going on in this country here lately, an officer in the school is clearly needed.”

Other towns, cities and the Marion County Sheriff’s office are on board, too.

It’s the next best thing to having an officer in the schools full time, though the board is doing what it can to make that happen on the high school level in the future. The county is hoping to get a grant in the future to fund prevention resource officers who would be stationed full time in the county’s three high schools and the Marion County Technical Center.

One step closer to safer schools is a good position to be in. And as long as we keep taking steps forward, everyone will benefit in the end.

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