Cops to enter halls in Madison schools
Record Managing Editor
When students at Bob Jones High School, Discovery Middle School and Liberty Middle School return to the halls following their holiday break, they will see a Madison police officer joining them in the crowds.
The Madison Police Department was given a $357,240 grant to hire three full-time police officers to work in the city's schools. Police Chief Dan Busken said the grant was announced from the office of U.S. Rep. Bud Cramer and awarded through the Department of Justice's Community Oriented Policing Services In School's Program. Busken said it's not the intent of the program to intimidate students, but to build a strong relationship between school students and police officers.
"We are taking applications now to hire three new officers who will replace three current patrol officers that will be going to the three schools," Busken said. "Each officer will work with the two D.A.R.E. officers we already have assigned in the middle schools."
Busken said Madison City Schools are blessed with low violence and low crime statistics and the officers are not being assigned to the schools because of violent or crime-oriented problems.
"That is the first thing I want to stress to our parents and to the students. This program that allows a police officer in the schools is a unique opportunity for us to make an already strong school district even stronger," Busken said. "These officers will serve as roll models and mentors to the students."
Busken noted that the program is already being implemented in Huntsville, Florence and Limestone County.
"The officers will undergo special training before they go into the schools and they will continue to be trained yearly," Busken said. "A decision as to whether or not the officers will be in full uniform or in plain clothes hasn't been made, but I believe we will opt for the full uniform."
The chief said the officers might begin their new assignments as early as this month. Each officer will stay at the school during the day. The grant to hire the three officers will go to pay the salary and benefits to the officers for three years.
"The response from the three principals has been positive and I think this is a fantastic program," Busken said. "We are looking forward to getting this under way and watching it develop into something good for our schools and community."