ActivePaper Archive School security initiatives eyed - Hobbs News Sun, 2012-12-21

School security initiatives eyed

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The City of Hobbs is identifying more ways to increase safety in Hobbs schools and one plan is to have more police officers trained to work in the schools and after-school programs.

Hobbs City Manager J.J. Murphy said the city began looking at these initiatives before the Dec. 14 massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.

“We have been working on various security initiatives,” he said. “Once we get to 90 officers we would like to cross-train some as school resource officers so we have dedicated and cross-trained officers for the schools.”

The district currently has three dedicated resource officers who rotate through the districts elementary, middle, junior and high schools.

Superintendent T.J. Parks said those officers are an important resource for the district and integral in the education process.

“I think one of the greatest things is the relationships they develop with those kids,” Parks said. “They are able to stop things before they get to a boiling point. Just their presence makes a big difference. It is surprising how similar they are to teachers — they are very concerned about the welfare of the kids and the citizens.”

Murphy said he would like to see these cross-trained officers spend time at places like the Hobbs Teen Center.

“There is nobody who knows those kids better than a school resource officer, from a law enforcement standpoint,” he said.

Interim Police Chief Chris McCall said resource officers are a benefit to the schools, but also the department, giving the department a better relationship with youth.

Parks said he isn’t sure having officers in the schools each day is necessary. He said the Newtown events have caused the school district to reevaluate its policies and procedures.

“I think it makes you look at what you have lined up,” Parks said. “We have to reevaluate our policies and procedures in place. Basically, what will happen is people will get lax as time goes on. I feel really good with what we have in place. We could always do better, but one dilemma is our buildings are 60-70 years old and not built for the security measures we have at the freshman school that was just built.”

Murphy said another security measure the city is looking at is live surveillance — having personnel watching cameras placed in schools and city parks 24/7. “So if an incident happens, our staff can give officers responding a live assessment of the scene,” he said. Murphy said the city has hired consultants who are expected in January to help begin setting up the live surveillance program.

Levi Hill can be reached at 391-5438 or reporter2@hobbsnews.com.

Security proposals

• Cross training more HPD officers to act as school resource officers.

• Live surveillance — having personnel watching cameras placed in schools and city parks 24/7.