Wednesday, August 18, 1999

Police patrol Boone schools

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        BURLINGTON — Boone County students will not only study history when they return to school Aug. 30; they'll also be able to witness it.

        For the first time, four resource officers will be present in Boone County schools, courtesy of a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. Boone County Superintendent Bryan Blavatt said recent tragedies, most notably April's shooting rampage at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., strengthened the need for resource officers.

        “The most important element in school safety is not surveillance cameras or metal detectors, but human beings,” Mr. Blavatt said. “At Columbine, they had surveillance cameras and metal detectors, but they didn't have an envi ronment where kids felt comfortable enough to come up and say, "Something's wrong. Something's going on.'”

        Resource officers hope that by patrolling the hallways and lending an ear, they can help cut back on violence, criminal behavior and truancy. School Resource Officer John Bauerle, who worked in the resource officer pilot program at R.A. Jones Middle School last year, said his presence in the building and on school grounds helped maintain a safe learning environment.

        “I think what my position did last year a lot was minimize the opportunity for students to get into mischief,” he said. “They know that if they come out of the room to go to the bathroom, there's a good chance Mr. B. will be there.”

        The grant provides $275,000 to pay the salaries of the four resource officers.

        Mr. Blavatt was clear to point out that the resource officers would not be replacing the officers involved in the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program, which was called into question again recently for not effectively steering kids away from drugs. Instead, he called the resource officers a “valuable” addition to the school system's administration because of their ties to the community and ability to help pre-empt dangerous situations.

        “Students feel comfortable in going to and talking with these folks in a preventive capacity,” Mr. Blavatt said while pointing to the officers. “What we're talking about is preventive, not just reactive. Trust me, no one here wants to be in a reactive mode with these folks.”

        Officers will work these assignments:


        • R.A. Jones Middle School and Boone County High School — John Bauerle.


        • Conner middle and high schools — Tony Trimble.

        • Ryle High School — Mike Jarman.

        • Ockerman Elementary School, Boone County High School and the county's alternative school — Jerry Goins.

        Sheriff Michael Helmig said the grant called for two more officers in the next year.


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