OKCPS adds resource officers to elementary schools
By Christine VanTimmeren
OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma City Public Schools is taking the safety of elementary students one step further by adding resource officers."They're very excited that you're there. They like to come up and hug you, touch you. They like all the stuff on your belt. They ask you 100 questions about everything that's on your belt," said school resource officer Sgt. Chris Graham.Sgt. Graham may carry a gun and handcuffs, but his job is more about student relationships, and less about punishment."Have them know that we are real people that they can approach that will help them with their problems," he said."To see a real police officer, it's kind of like having a local hero in your school," said Rockwood Elementary School principal Dr. Sheryl Barnett.As of 2014, Oklahoma City elementary schools will be assigned those heroes. Right now four resource officers are being split up between 48 elementary schools with the goal of adding more in the future."The officer's never going to be more than a few minutes away for response," said Sgt. Graham.Not every school will see an officer everyday, but if and when they need one, schools will always call the same officer."We've found it's a lot better response if you have an officer that knows the building, that knows the area," Sgt. Graham said.It's also about letting kids know that police aren't the bad guys."They actually get to know a police officer and it changes that misconception of, the police officer is out to get me, as opposed to the truth of a police officer is here to help me," said Dr. Barnett.Sgt. Graham says if students are comfortable with having a resource officer in the halls as an elementary student, it will be easier to adjust to having one in middle and high school."We're there to help. We're there to build a relationship with kids," Sgt. Graham said.OKCPS says school tragedies across the country have really brought attention to the need to improve safety and security at elementary schools. The additional officers will hopefully provide that.The cost of the officers will be split between the district and Oklahoma City.
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