Officers walking halls at Ironton

Published 2:21 pm Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Students and teachers in the Ironton City Schools district have likely noticed an increase in security with the addition of armed officers patrolling the hallways.

At a cost of about $44,000 for the year, the new security measure was approved by the board of education and was in place for the start of the school year.

Superintendent Dean Nance said the partnership with law enforcement is to provide the safest environment possible and show students they can trust the officers.

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“Socially, I would like to bridge that gap, that a police officer is not associated with something bad,” Nance said. “Someone you can trust and someone you can talk to.”

Mark Fields, school board president, said having the officers in the schools was a way to put students’ safety as a No. 1 priority.

“We started that last year on a trial basis,” Fields said. “We wanted to do something to address some of the concerns and some of the security measures based on some of the events around the country. We just felt very confidant the best direction was to spend the money and put security at the top and actually walk the walk of put our money where our mouth is in regards to what we continuously see as a top priority.”

The board approved for the entire year to have an off-duty Lawrence County Sheriff’s deputy working security at the high school, while an Ironton Police officer will cover the middle and elementary school.

The officers will be armed and in uniform, Sheriff Jeff Lawless said.

“I think it is a tremendous asset,” Lawless said. “We have one school resource officer for the entire county, so to have Ironton take the lead and hire officers, that frees up my school resource officer so he can focus on the other buildings throughout the county. To have officers inside the building everyday certainly makes the schools a lot safer.”

Fields said there has been a lot of positive feedback from students and teachers about the new security measures. He also said the board and administration worked together in support of the effort.

“One of the things I found very enlightening, was the positive responses we got from the students,” Fields. “I do think it has helped them to feel more safe. Even outside of thinking of an intruder or someone who is not welcome in the school, I think the teachers appreciate the fact that we’ve got some security there.”

The officers will patrol the schools for the rest of the school year and Fields said the board would continue to evaluate the process on a regular basis.