Following the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, the nation's leading school safety organization is calling for increased patrols at schools nationwide, but also to include elementary, private and charter schools. Curt Lavarello, Executive Director of the School Safety Advocacy Council stated "Often times our elementary and private schools are not even on the security radar screen, making them so very vulnerable."
Part of the School Safety Advocacy Council's school safety review included meeting with Police Chiefs, School Administrators and School Safety Professionals from across the nation and determining what is needed and what is fiscally possible. "The thought that every elementary and private school in the nation will be able to fund a fulltime School Resource Officer, is simply not possible for many communities", continued Lavarello.
As a result of these discussions, the SSAC has developed a new cooperative law enforcement program that includes a comprehensive 2-day training program for schools and law enforcement agencies entitled "LEEP", which stands for "Law Enforcement Educational Presence." The curricula is designed for current patrol officers and reserve officers who may be asked to spend more time in and around the school setting. "Many agencies can't afford SRO's in all the schools, but at least we can create satellite offices in schools where officers can write their reports, make calls and spend additional time interacting with students and faculty", stated Sean Burke, President of the School Safety Advocacy Council and graduate of the National FBI Academy.
The LEEP Course is designed to provide the basics any officer should have when stepping foot into the educational arena. From Emergency Response to School incidents, to providing an understanding of Special Education Law and Bullying, officers will definitely feel more comfortable having the increased knowledge.
The School Safety Advocacy Council has also provided law enforcement agencies with some basic tips to increase the law enforcement presence around all schools within their jurisdiction. Some of those tips include;
- Establishing a Reserve or part-time SRO Program whereby retired or part time officers work within the school setting
- Parking police vehicles not in use on school property
- Provide officer the opportunity to have lunch on school property
- Having officers write their reports while parked in front of Schools