Rowe: Police presence to continue at city schools
by James Phillips
Jan 11, 2013 | 3440 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jasper officers Joseph Homan, left, and J.B. Wren stand outside T.R. Simmons Elementary in Jasper Thursday afternoon as parents line up to pick up their children from school. Photo by: James Phillips
Jasper officers Joseph Homan, left, and J.B. Wren stand outside T.R. Simmons Elementary in Jasper Thursday afternoon as parents line up to pick up their children from school. Photo by: James Phillips
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A police presence will be visible at schools in the Jasper City System throughout the remainder of the school year.

Jasper Police Chief Connie Cooner Rowe said officers will be at each school in the city in the mornings when students are dropped off and in the afternoons when students are picked up.

“We’ve shifted the schedules for our detectives,” Rowe said. “Instead of working 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., they will now work 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the first hour of their day will be covering all our schools as children are being dropped off.”

In the afternoons, Rowe said the Jasper BOE has agreed to pay officers as part-time employees for one hour per day. Those officers will be at area elementary schools and Maddox Middle School from 2:15 to 3:15 p.m., and they will be present at Walker High School from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Officers say they have been welcomed by the administrations at each school and by students.

“The kids all seem to like us being here,” said Joseph Homan, an officer stationed at T.R. Simmons Elementary School Thursday.

Police will also be visiting schools throughout the day, Superintendent Robert Sparkman said.

“Officers will be on our campuses during the day as they patrol,” Sparkman said. “They are welcome to come into our buildings and walk the halls. We appreciate the work that Chief Rowe and her entire department does to keep our schools safe.”

Rowe said the long-term goal remains to have a police officer inside each school in Jasper.

“I hope some federal funding shakes loose, because that is what we want to ultimately see happen,” she said.

Rowe said she has made it mandatory that all Jasper police take an online training course related to active shooters in a school setting. Sparkman said the same course is also being taken by teachers and administrators in the Jasper system.

“This is one way our employees can educate themselves on what they could do if a situation like a shooter in a school took place,” Sparkman said.

Rowe said an active shooter instructor from the Northeast Alabama Law Enforcement Academy is also scheduled to visit Jasper for a training course.

“We will use Sherer Auditorium and form walls inside the building out of black plastic to have an active shooter training session,” she said.

Tommy Hood, the leader of the JPD Critical Incident Response Team, is also scheduled to go to training to become an active shooter training instructor. Rowe said once his training is complete that Jasper police will run an active shooter scenario in every city school each semester.

“We are taking steps to make our schools as safe as they possibly can be,” Rowe said. “So far the cost to the City of Jasper has been nothing based on our ability to realign and be creative with our scheduling. I believe we are covered to the best of our ability at this point in time. Safety in our schools is a top priority for our department.”