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Additional police assigned to local school campuses

Security added while DPSD committee discuss options

The City of Demopolis Public Safety Department will be providing additional security at local schools at the same time a committee reviews possible longterm security issues.

During a council meeting on Thursday, Feb. 15, Mayor John Laney assigned to the city’s Public Safety Committee the task of reviewing school security following last week’s school shooting in Florida where 17 people were killed.

While awaiting that committee’s report, the mayor and Public Safety Director Tommie Reese have assigned full-time security to each of the city’s four campuses. Those officers began working at the schools on Tuesday.

“I do not feel we should be asking (a committee) to look at this issue and us not providing additional security in the interim,” Laney said. “That’s why we are taking this immediate step of providing additional security while we await the committee’s recommendations for the council’s consideration.”

Demopolis Superintendent Kyle Kallhoff said during a school board meeting Tuesday that he and Reese performed “spot checks” across the system’s campuses, which included reviewing all entryways into the buildings. Kallhoff said the additional security in the form of officers on each campus will help security tremendously.

“We are extremely pleased that the mayor, council and public safety director have initiated a discussion on school safety and will be putting SROs (School Resource Officers) in each school. That presence along is a deterrent,” Kallhoff said.

The additional security aside, the DPSD works with the Demopolis School System in funding two part-time SROs, which were splitting their time between the four city campuses. Reese said that providing four SROs would be difficult to fund.

“We need full-time police protection at all four schools, not just part-time,” Reese said at the latest council meeting. “It would be great to have four SROs, but we can’t afford it.”

Reese said he has beens seeking out additional grant funding that could help provide additional resources for school safety. He added that, most likely, it would be up to the city and school system to increase school safety.

(This article originally appeared in the Saturday, February 24 issue of the Demopolis Times.)