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Police patrol Pleasant Grove schools to increase security

By Sam Penrod | Posted - Jan 22nd, 2013 @ 6:30pm

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PLEASANT GROVE — In light of recent shootings across the country, one Utah city is trying to be proactive in their schools. Pleasant Grove has committed to have a police presence in every school, every day.

Every school day, a police officer spends about 20 minutes walking through each of the 10 public and charter schools in Pleasant Grove, talking to students and teachers and making sure that there's no one there who shouldn't be.

"Nothing better for our officers to be doing than walking through those schools," said Pleasant Grove Police Lt. Britt Smith.

As another school shooting was shown on TV in the lobby of the Pleasant Grove police station Tuesday, local police were trying to have a more visible role in their schools to prevent similar things from happening.

Even with limited resources, the police force came up with a simple idea.

"We can't put an armed officer in every school full time, (so our idea) was to just have our patrolman walk through the hallways, meet and greet the kids and make sure everything is safe and secure," Smith said.

One of those officers patrolling Pleasant Grove Jr. High is Glenn Giles, who used to walk the halls as a student.

"It's still the same school, still blue and white," Giles said. "Some of the exterior doors of the school are supposed to be locked during school hours, so we check those doors, make sure they are secure. Everyone is supposed to be coming through the main entrance in the day and checking in at the office."

It's a new sight for students, since they returned from their holiday vacation.

"It feels a little safer, but sometimes you wonder why they are coming through," said Claire Milner.

But students like Milner say that it's cool.

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"They give you high-fives and they talk to you," Milner said.

Police say it is not just about preventing a school shooting, but also to have better interaction between police and students.

"It's always a good thing when the kids get a chance to see our law enforcement out there supporting us and making sure that we are safe," said Brian Jolley, principal at the junior high.

Police say their daily walk through each school occurs randomly. They don't want to create a routine, so marked and unmarked patrols cars are used with both uniformed and officers in plain clothes.

"It takes a little bit of our time and takes the officers off the street, but I think it is for a good cause," Smith said. "There is no greater cause than our children's safety, and I don't think there is anything better for our officers to be doing than walking through those schools."

Another advantage of the officer school patrol is that if there ever were an incident, officers would be very familiar with the layout of each school if they had to respond to an emergency.


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