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School offers 'cop stop' to attract police for protection, refreshment


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WEST HAVEN — After Sandy Hook, everything has suddenly been put on the table in the discussion of how we prevent a further tragedy, from more guns to less guns to armed guards in schools full time.

One Utah Charter school has a an innovative solution: Put out the refreshments and the cops will come to you.

Quest Academy have put together what they're calling "comfort zones," affectionately referred to as "cop stops," where any uniformed law enforcement officer can stop by for a coffee and a granola bar before returning to the beat.

"We don't have the funding to have an officer in the school, so I wondered what we could do to entice them to come," said Principal Lani Rounds. "So that's where this came from."

The idea is that the more police inside the school the safer it will be. Someone who sees a cop car out front may think twice before trying to commit a crime, violent or otherwise, on the campus.

Quest Academy Comfort Zone
The school is located at 4862 W. 4000 South in West Haven, and the cop stop will be open until May 24. Local police officers, in uniform, need only stop by and check in at the office.

At a table inside the school you can find coffee, tea cider, granola bars, snacks and other items. You can also find Deputy Will Smith with the Weber County Sheriff's Office. He stops by regularly to warm up and grab a bite.

"After the tragedy in Connecticut and a lot of the school shootings that have been happening, I think it helps the students and the faculty, puts them at ease knowing that there is a police presence in the hallways and we're always nearby," Smith said.

Both Smith and Rounds said that it's not just about the protection and the peace of mind, but also about the relationships they're building between officers and faculty as well as officers and kids.

"(The students)kinda see a cop in the positive sense and they learn that cops are nice and you can ask them anything," Smith said.

Rounds said parents have expressed support for the idea and the "outside the box thinking." It cost a couple hundred dollars to initiate, but the comfort zone is now supported by donations from parents as well.

"We feel safe anyhow, but it's just an added sense of security when you have a trained officer in the school," Rounds said.

One thing you won't find there: Doughnuts. Stereotypes aren't a form of refreshment at Quest Academy.

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David Self Newlin

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