Schools safety a top concern

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 5, 2000

Staff Writer

School and safety are supposed to go hand in hand and the Troy Police Department is working to make that so.

On Monday, parents and students will be arriving at school for a new academic year ­ some reluctantly giving up the freedom of summer.

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To ensure the 2001-2002 school year is not only successful, but safe, police officers will be on hand directing traffic and even walking around campus.

"People have got to remember school is going to be new to some students and parents," said Sgt. Benny Scarbrough, public information officer for the TPD.

"Our responsibility is to make sure they get to school in a safe manner."

At Charles Henderson High School, there will be students driving to school for the first time, mixing with traffic traveling to and from the high school, middle school and elementary school.

Troy Police Chief Anthony Everage is urging those who will be driving in school traffic to be careful.

"The bottom line is people should be aware," Everage said, adding parents and students should allow plenty of drive time so they are not in a rush to beat the bell.

School Resource Officer Willie Toney echoed the chief’s comments and added a few of his own.

"Students should be prepared to come to school to learn," Toney said.

Some of the things that might help make the upcoming school year go a little smoother include reading and understanding school policies. He said that is something in which parents should be involved.

Also, high school students who will be driving "need to make sure they get stickers for their vehicles or they will be towed off," and obey all traffic laws on and off campus.

As the ever-present officer on the high school campus since October 2000, Toney will also be visiting Charles Henderson Middle School and Troy Elementary School campuses this year.

"My goal is to make sure I do whatever is necessary to cover all the schools," Toney said.

This year, he will even be teaching some safety classes to students in the Troy City Schools.

At the elementary level, he wants to focus on teaching children "police are your friends" so they will feel comfortable reporting any suspicious activity when they’re older.

"If you start with the young ones, they will remember me at the middle and high school," Toney said of the relationship he established earlier in the students’ lives.

"Kids are our source of information on the streets," he said of criminal activity.

Being the first police officer notified when there is a problem in one of the Troy schools, Toney understands the ever-present danger that exists.

"You have to be on top of things all the time," Toney said. "There’s always that possibility."

Such "possibilities" can be anything from fighting to carrying a gun on campus with intent to kill.

"I want to make sure our kids are safe," he said, adding he is determined to do what it takes to make that a reality.