On the morning of December 14, 2012, fear gripped the community surrounding Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Shots rang out of a K-4th grade school, a place where children should be safe. This was a terrible tragedy that shook the community and placed fear in the hearts of children and parents nationwide.
Sadly, school violence is a growing trend, and putting an end to it is a conversation that is taking place everywhere, including at the legislative level. There are differing opinions as to viable solutions to this very disturbing problem; including: arming teachers with guns and hiring more school resource officers, both of which cost money. However, there is one very different option that is being implemented in Goodyear, AZ and is returning rave reviews from the community.
The Goodyear Police Department in partnership with three separate schools within the City limits has established a School Police Substation program. This is a very simple and cost effective program. The schools have offered up office space on their school campuses. Officers who are on patrol during school hours simply drop by the school, as their schedule allows, making phone calls and catching up on computer work. This is an opportunity for officers to get out of their patrol cars and have a presence at the school, which in and of itself acts as a deterrent to potential crime. In addition, school staff, students and parents enjoy interacting with officers when they are on campus.
According to Goodyear Police Chief, Jerry Geier, “I was approached by a school principal about the idea and didn't hesitate. Officers use the three school substations, which are located in the north, central and south geographical areas of the city. It is a win-win. There is no cost, which is one of the most important things. It gets the officers in the schools and law enforcement presence is there.”
In addition, the schools are thrilled to have officers present on their campuses. According to Avondale Elementary School District Superintendent, Dr. Betsy Hargrove, "we are fortunate to have incredible relationships between our district and city agencies. Chief Geier and his entire team are a resource for our families and communities. Being able to establish a substation at one of our sites further strengthens those connections. Promoting visibility in our neighborhoods provides another layer of support. We look forward to building upon the relationships already established.”
“We are extremely appreciative of the partnership with Goodyear Police Department. They have consistently worked to maximize the safety and security of our schools. Having a substation at Westar Elementary is another example of the proactive partnership between our school district and the city. Goodyear Police and Fire Departments have a long history of support for our schools,” stated Dr. Andrew Rogers, Liberty Elementary School District Superintendent.
We all hope that tragedy like that at Sandy Hook Elementary or Columbine High School never happens again. However, the Goodyear Police Department in Goodyear, Arizona, has taken a proactive and cost effective approach to see that the likelihood of such a tragedy is minimized in this community.
To learn more about the city of Goodyear, visit www.ci.goodyear.az.us.