Deputies to patrol school campuses
Two Pike County deputies are going back to school with the aid of a COPS in Schools grant.
Deputies Sam Green and Loren Williams will be dividing their time among Goshen Elementary and High Schools, as well as Banks Primary and Banks Junior High, as the result of a Community Oriented Policing Services grant administered by the United States Department of Justice, which awards such grants as "continued community policing efforts" across the nation.
"It’s good when you get this free money," Thomas said.
The grant for Pike County is for three years and provides 100 percent of the funding needed to put the deputies in the county schools.
Green and Williams, Thomas said, are ideal for the job.
"They’re good with the public," he said of the two young deputies. "I think they understand the students because they can communicate with all ages."
Thomas pointed out the deputies will not be on campus "for intimidation," but to help school officials and to create an overall feeling of safety.
"We’re here to build relationships. Law enforcement has traditionally been intimidating, especially to younger kids," Thomas said of building strong relationships with administrators, teachers and, especially students.
As sheriff, Thomas strongly believes the COPS in Schools program is "a good thing" and will be beneficial to the four county schools.
"They will rotate between the four schools," Thomas said of the deputies who will visit Goshen Elementary, Goshen High School, Banks Primary and Banks Junior High school campuses during the school year.
Pike County Sheriff Russell Thomas said securing the grant funding was made possible due to support of U.S. Rep. Terry Everett, R-Enterprise, as well as the Pike County Commission and Pike County Board of Education.
"The Pike County Commission has been very supportive," Thomas said, adding Superintendent John Key and assistant superintendent Mark Bazzell have also been extremely supportive.
"Without their cooperation this wouldn’t be possible," Thomas said of putting the deputies in schools. "We’ve worked on this about 18 months."
Pike County Elementary and Pike County High Schools are in the Brundidge Police Department’s jurisdiction and have a officer from that department assigned to them.