Schools in Marion County are getting a little safer these days. That's because the board of education, along with local law enforcement, has started a new program they're calling '30 on 30'. Now what that means is that police officers will stop by schools for about 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon.
"It helps with security of course, you know, and especially coming on a random basis, they won't come at the exact same time everyday. So, anybody who might want to do ill-will at the school really doesn't know when a policeman might be stopping by," said Gary Price, Superintendent of Marion County Schools.
Recent tragedies, like the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, have school officials and police officers looking for better ways to keep our students safe. Authorities said just walking through schools twice a day can deter criminals and help students, parents, and the community feel safer.
"When you have something that tragic happen anywhere in the country, people start asking questions like, 'what if?' This kind of puts people at ease that law enforcement [officers] are in the area," said Sheriff Joe Carpenter, Marion County Sheriff's Department.
While the '30 on 30' program might not be the answer for every community, all of the police departments in Marion County have agreed to offer this service to their schools for free. Principals said having those officers on board has brought nothing but positive feedback from parents.
"It's better that they know these are people you can go to, this is who you can be safe around, and the parents are happy with it also. They're happy that the police officers are walking through the building and they're happy the students are seeing them walking through the building," said Kim Middlemas, Principal at Pleasant Valley Elementary School.
The '30 on 30' program is just getting started, but school officials are also applying for grants that would pay for a full-time prevention resource officer in each of the three county high schools.