Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

September 25, 2013

Vigo County touts school safety program

School officials talked to an Indiana Senate school safety committee Tuesday.

INDIANAPOLIS — Vigo County Sheriff Greg Ewing doesn’t plan to teach arithmetic in school any time soon.

And he’d prefer it if educators not trained as police officers would not carry guns in school.

“I didn’t go to school to teach,” Ewing told an Indiana Senate school safety interim study committee at the Statehouse on Tuesday. “I believe teachers and principals don’t need to be worried about doing my job.”

Ewing was among a group of Vigo County officials who told the study committee how his county’s law enforcement, government and school officials came together to put school protection officers in each school after the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre in Connecticut last spring.

Vigo County School Corp. Superintendent Danny Tanoos, who also attended the committee meeting, said school protection officers in the district’s schools are all former police officers, many retired, who now have full-time jobs with the school corporation and are first line of defense in case of a violent attack.

And these officers are not expected to look for students sneaking a smoke in the restroom or to bust students who are cutting class.

While the school district and city and county governments split the costs of the program, the sheriff’s department and Terre Haute Police Department are responsible for the law enforcement duties of each officer. The county and the city supply marked police cars that are parked outside each school as a message to the public that an armed officer is inside to protect students and staff.

“We looked at our best options,” Terre Haute Police Chief John Plasse told the study committee, “and we realized we couldn’t just pick a school to protect, it had to be all schools. And the officers need to be armed and trained law enforcement officers.”

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