COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Police departments are known all over the country. Some colleges and universities even have their own law enforcement.
Now, the Muscogee County School District will have its own police force.
Police Chief Greg Arp is very excited about this program coming to Muscogee County. He said school policing is something he is passionate about and he can’t wait to get started.
Muscogee County students have seen school resource officers for many years now. But starting in August, they can expect to see some new uniforms.
“The first phase will have 15 officers, 2 sergeants, a captain, and myself," Arp said. "We’re going to assign based on needs but at the outset, tentatively now, we’re talking about all high schools and then 6 officers for the middle schools. The additional 2 sergeants will help rotate between the middle schools to help pick up calls.”
The new Muscogee County School District Police Department will do more than just enforce the law.
“How many police officers do you see that are out playing basketball or football with the kids in the gym?" Arp said. "Not many developing that one-on-one relationship with these students. So hopefully in those relationships we can solve problems before they even occur.”
Parents have mixed opinions.
“I think it’s a great idea," Yariela Rodriguez said. "I come from Florida and we have SROs in all of our schools over there, so I think it would be great. Our children will be protected.”
“You know it’s a lot of taxpayer money," Ed Key said. "But if parents feel safer with that in place then so be it.”
Arp said there isn’t a big difference between what the police force will be doing and what school resource officers do now, except they will be able to independently work outside of the sheriff’s office or police department.
“The main difference is going to be that the officer is also going to be interacting with the students in teaching, playing a mentoring role, and assisting with various activities with the schools," Arp said.
As far as a timeline goes, Arp said he isn’t going to rush anything. He wants to make this program the best it can be for the students and the community.