Free Lance-Star reporter Amy Umble covers Stafford County schools and other education issues

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Stafford Sheriff to boost presence at schools

Wednesday, when Stafford County students return to school, there will be more Sheriff’s deputies patrolling campuses.

After the massacre in Newtown, Stafford County Sheriff Charles Jett assigned a deputy to each of the county’s schools. Before the tragedy, each high school had its own deputy. And the county’s eight middle schools shared two resource officers. Additionally, there are two deputies who lead the DARE program at the elementary schools.

Starting Jan. 2, a deputy will check in on schools that don’t have an officer assigned, according to a press release from the Stafford Sheriff’s Office.

The release states:

Periodically during the day that patrol deputy will be checking the interior and exterior of the building. After meeting with building level administration, deputies will become familiar with the school’s schedule, physical layout, daily procedures and activities to further support a safe teaching and learning environment. It is important to note that the extra presence in all of the schools is precautionary only and not the result of any threats or intended acts of violence made against the schools.

“Never before has the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office had a daily presence in every public school in Stafford County,” states Sheriff Charles Jett. “While I wish I could place a full time deputy in all of the schools, I do feel that these additional measures will provide extra security to protect our children and the adults that work with them every day.”

The Sheriff’s Office and Stafford County Schools have always had an ongoing and continuous program of preparation for critical incidents in the schools. The Sheriff’s Office will maintain the continuous review of school safety programs with Dr. Bridges, Stafford County School Superintendent and appropriate school personnel in an effort to assist the school division in providing a safe setting for all those who work in the schools.

In the near future the Sheriff’s Office will begin work on a new initiative called Protect Our Children Neighborhood Watch Program. The premise of this program is to include neighborhood residents in our attempt to help keep our children safe. The Sheriff’s Office will develop a training module, identify residents near schools and host meetings at the schools in the near future. These trained residents will be acting as eyes and ears, assisting the Sheriff’s Office in identifying suspicious activities or individuals in the neighborhoods around the schools.