Grants Pass, Ore. — A new safety initiative by the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety will be put officers into city schools beginning on Monday. With school shootings becoming a growing concern across the country, police say they’re stepping in as a precautionary measure, hoping to prevent a similar tragedy here at home.
Chief Bill Landis said he just recently proposed the idea of the School Marshal program to Grants Pass School District 7.
“Why don’t I take retired officers, and see if I can maintain their certification, and put them to work in the schools,” Chief Landis said. “Sometimes we may be able to, in a proactive stance, figure out if someone is plotting or planning something, as well as be able to be there to confront someone who may come on campus that we weren’t even expecting.”
The School Marshal program will use retired, armed officers who still have their police officer certification, and place them on school campuses in the city. Chief Landis won’t disclose how many officers are in the program as a safety precaution.
Sherry Ely, business manager at Grants Pass School District 7 said the program is something the District has embraced since day one, and they believe parents will as well.
“Having people there who are armed, even though they will be plain clothes, you know, people are not going to know who they are,” Ely said.
Grants Pass man David Harrell is a father of three young children; his oldest is finishing up kindergarten this spring. Harrell tells NBC5 News that he’s fully supporting the program.
“If just their presence there means people won’t even try, then that will make me feel better,” Harrell said. “Children are a target for people who have bad intentions.”
Harrell is also hoping the program will have an impact on the children.
“I think it’s important for kids to learn about what police officers do for their community,” Harrell said. “Being able to see their presence, would, I hope, build trust in that system.”
The school district will be fund the program. They estimate that they’ll be paying an extra $30,000 to $60,000 annually to the Department of Public Safety, along with their current school resource officer budget.