UPDATE: Local Police Department Teams Up with Elementary School

By: Lauren Schmoll Email
By: Lauren Schmoll Email

RIO GRANDE, Ohio (WSAZ) -- One local police department is teaming up with the nearby elementary school to help protect children after the Sandy Hook tragedy.

In Rio Grande, the police department is opening up a satellite office inside the elementary school. When officers would typically be at the police station doing paperwork, they will now be inside the school. It will allow them to use their downtime to protect children, as well as to offer a presence at the school.

Fifth-grade teacher Miranda Fortner says it's putting everyone's mind at ease.

"They don't have to worry about sending their kids to school now, and it's helping to relieve the stress of the children," Fortner said. "Because there were a lot that were scared to come back."

Fourth-grader Brant Rocchi says it's a relief for him to see an officer in the school.

"It would probably scare people off if they tried to come here," Rocchi said.

The main police station is still where any citizen will need to go to see police. They will not be allowed inside the satellite office at the school.

The police department and the school say this is a perfect solution -- one that doesn't cost taxpayers extra money.

"I think our presence will add safety to the school and ease the minds of parents and the staff," Police Chief Danny Day said. "It will also hopefully teach the children we are not someone to run from; we are someone to run to when they need help."

""It's not going to cost any more than what it was originally costing," Mayor Matt Easter said. "It's just now, instead of the officer being stationed at an office on the other side of town ... He has an office here at the grade school."

Day came up with the idea as he was watching the news coverage of the Sandy Hook tragedy. He then pitched it to the mayor who went straight to the Rio Grande Elementary School principal.

"We really need to look at our safety in our school and make sure we're doing what we can to keep our kids safe," Principal Jeremy Hout said.

The police department says officers at the school will not be classified as resource officers. Those are provided by the Gallia County Sheriff's Office and rotate among the schools in the county.

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