BARTLESVILLE, Okla. - Bartlesville students returning to classes Wednesday saw patrol cars outside their schools, a sight that will become routine thanks to some security changes in the wake of recent threats and the Sandy Hook shooting.
After a winter break that started a day early last month due to threats last month and the arrest of one Bartlesville High School student for allegedly planning a school shooting, the school district has hired off-duty police officers to ensure the safety of students.
"We just felt that might bring a certain level of comfort to our parents right now," said superintendent Gary W. Quinn.
The Bartlesville Police Department will also have on duty officers patrol the schools and surrounding areas when they can.
While they will have to respond to calls, the department has instructed officers to do what they can to make their presence known around campuses.
During the winter break, school officials met with local emergency crews to evaluate their security plan.
According to police, while what is currently in place is only a temporary solution, in the long run, the entire community will be asked to be a part of helping to keep children safe.
“Everyone is concerned about protecting their children and I just think it's a community effort, it's not just on the back of the police department or school administration,” Bartlesville Police Capt. Jay Hastings told 2NEWS. “It's on the backs of all our parents. They all need to be a part. It's like our first line of defense.”
Among the measures to increase security, the school district has hired 10 off-duty police officers and one full time school resource officer – already on duty.
An additional resource officer may be hired if funding becomes available.
School officials say police officers manning the schools is only temporary. That's not only because of the cost.
After a safety assessment, the school district is trying to come up with long-term ways to increase school security.
"During this time we'll decide, 'hey, do we need to continue this, do we need to continue it at all schools, do we need to just do it at certain schools?' So during these next few weeks we'll be determining what our plan is for the week after that," Quinn said.
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Bartlesville Regional United Way recently announced the results of United Way’s annual report for 2011.