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Monday October 22, 2018

police now in lacrosse and wanatah schools

Friday, December 29, 2017 17:30 PM
Written by Stan Maddux
Category: Local News

All school corporations in LaPorte County now have a stronger police presence.

The last to receive a school resource officer was Tri Township School Corporation which consists of LaCrosse High School and Wanatah School.

LaPorte County Sheriff John Boyd said four deputies in early December began taking turns on their days off from the department to work in the schools.

One officer three days a week goes in and divides their time equally in each of the schools.

Their time is paid for with a grant obtained by the school corporation.

''It'll be a work day for them when they're off,'' Boyd said.

Both schools are in very rural locations with LaCrosse High School having only about 100 students.

Wanatah School has around 300 students in grades K-8.

Nevertheless, Boyd said there's still a need to address things like drugs and bullying like in any other school.

''When you look at the frequency of violence that's occurred in schools, it really isn't just isolated to inner city schools and they deserve the same level of protection,'' said Boyd.

Boyd said the presence of just a police vehicle outside a school is a deterrent for any violence or misbehavior that might otherwise occur and having an officer present cuts down on response times in the event of an emergency.

''They're not there as a hall monitor. They're there for legitimate law enforcement purposes and to have a presence and to build a repoire with the students, the staff and the families of those communities,'' said Boyd.

Capt. Mike Kellems, who oversees the department's school resource officer program, said other benefits include classroom presentations on various topics that can be helpful to both students and staff no matter what size the school.

Tri Township school officials talked about having police in the schools for about a year before deciding to go ahead with it on a part-time basis for now.

''It's something their administrators had not experienced in the past so I think they want to get a flavor of what an SRO is going to bring to the school,'' Kellems said.

A school resource officer was assigned to the New Prairie School Corporation last year.

Westville and South Central schools have shared an officer for about three-years.

The sheriff's department has had a presence in the LaPorte School Corporation for a much longer time period with two deputies currently working in the school there.

Michigan City Police supply the officers who work in the schools in that district.
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