Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Police focus on back-to-school safety

You may have heard that Chief Corwin is out sick for a few days, so I – Deputy Chief Cy Ritter – will be posting in his absence. We wish Chief a speedy recovery.

This year more than any in recent memory, we’ve received a lot of phone calls from parents concerned about their kids’ safety as they head back to school. Most of those calls have involved bus stops, but there have been other concerns, as well. Today is the second day of school for the Kansas City Missouri School District, which has undergone a lot of changes. Schools have closed and combined, and younger children are now at bus stops earlier. I want to assure you we’ve been responsive to those changes.

Our Special Operations Division officers are focusing on school zones before and after school to stop speeders and others driving dangerously. On their way to the school zones, they’re stopping by school bus stops and checking on students’ safety. Speaking of bus stops, all patrol officers have been ordered to monitor them before and after school when they’re not responding to 911 calls. These operations are in place at all schools in Kansas City, Mo. – including those north of the River, private schools and those in the Southland.

To address some of the issues specific to the reorganization of the Kansas City School District, police have been meeting with principals throughout the summer to determine what kind of police presence would be necessary at schools. Based on this, we realigned our school resource officers in high schools: there are now two at Southwest, two at Central and two at Northeast. Patrol officers also are paying more attention to schools that have been combined. South Patrol Division, for instance, has made it a special project to ensure the safety of students at the combined Hickman Mills/Ruskin High School.

For the first time this year, we’ve assigned our Mounted Patrol officers to patrol school areas, and we’ve asked all patrol division commanders to pick a school each day to visit and introduce themselves at. Community Interaction Officers also are speaking to community groups about school safety and passing out packets with more information.

Things seem to be going smoothly thus far, and we ask parents to continue to work with their children and schools to provide a safe environment for learning as this school year moves forward.

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