Police presence seen at city, county school
by RACHEL DAVIS
Dec 18, 2012 | 3468 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jasper police were at each of the city’s schools Monday following Friday’s deadly school shooting in Connecticut. – Photo by: Rachel Davis.
Jasper police were at each of the city’s schools Monday following Friday’s deadly school shooting in Connecticut. – Photo by: Rachel Davis.
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As tensions and fears continue to run high following the Newtown, Conn., elementary school shooting last week, local police stepped up their presence in city and county schools.

Each of the six Jasper City School campuses had at least one uniformed officer at the school during morning drop off and afternoon pick up.

Jasper Police Chief Connie Cooner Rowe and Superintendent Robert Sparkman said they had both received positive comments from parents about the increased visibility.

“We really appreciate everything the police department is doing to help us and our parents appreciate it, too,” Sparkman said. “We just can’t be too safe with our kids.”

Rowe said she has asked a member of her Critical Response Team to visit and evaluate the security of each school.

Walker County Schools also saw officers at each school, with municipal police in Carbon Hill, Oakman, Parrish, Cordova, Dora and Sumiton covering the schools in their cities and county sheriff’s deputies at Lupton, Valley, Curry and Sipsey schools.

“We really appreciate the local police for all the help they provided,” Walker County Sheriff John Mark Tirey said. He added that although the deputies were only stationed at the school during peak times, they are also increasing their patrols throughout the day.

Walker County Superintendent of Education Jason Adkins said he understood the position of the parents who were worried as he sent his own children to school Monday morning.

“We understand exactly how they feel and we share their concerns,” Adkins said. He added that he believed the police and sheriff’s presence was a way to reassure those parents and children that this is being taken seriously and that it will continue to be taken seriously even after this initial shock and horror wear off.

The municipal police departments and county deputies will continue to be present at schools during these peak times through Friday. After this week, students will be out of school for holiday break.

Rowe, who has been an outspoken advocate of having an officer in each school, even before the most recent shooting, said that without additional resources she will not be able to maintain that presence longterm. She and Sparkman said they are working together, with officials from the city, to come up with a long-term, sustainable plan.

Other departments around the county echoed Rowe’s concerns about maintaining the level of support after the holidays. Sumiton’s Assistant Police Chief Scott Karr said their department sent officers to Sumiton Elementary/Middle School and Sumiton Christian School Monday morning.

“I think it will be a challenge for local law enforcement to maintain this coverage with the current resources,” Karr said. “We need additional resources and funding.”

Adkins has asked Tirey and municipal representatives to attend a meeting at the Walker County Board of Education this morning to discuss the sustainability of this plan, as well as discuss other options to safeguard the schools. Atkins said the system is looking into the Virtual Alabama system that the Jasper City Schools have that allows law enforcement officers access to school layouts and camera systems in case of emergency. He is also looking at the possibility of bringing in resource officers.

“There are a lot of things going on behind the scenes,” Adkins said. “We are not going to leave any stone unturned as we move forward to ensure the safety of our children.”