Hazelwood schools to add armed officers to campus

7:31 PM, Jan 3, 2013   |    comments
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By Steve Patterson

FLORISSANT, Mo. (KSDK) - Another area school is adding armed officers to campus.

On Wednesday, we told you about an expansion of the School Resource Officer program in Chesterfield.

On Thursday, we learned the Hazelwood School District is also adding another officer after the Florissant Police Department made the suggestion.

On Monday students will see a marked police car in front here and an armed officer patrolling inside. This is the very last Hazelwood secondary school to have a School Resource Officer on the grounds, brought on by the tragedy in Newtown.

Officer Dustin Owen, a 12 year veteran of the Florissant Police Department, will become the new School Resource Officer at Northwest Middle. He'll take complaints, patrol the hallways and keep the kids safe.

Officials with both the school system and the department agreed to the arrangement after a meeting in December.

Police say the school system will take care of a majority of his paycheck in about a 75-25 split, with no additional cost to taxpayers.

School officials say they welcome the added security and a chance to educate students about police duty.

Police officials say it's an opportunity to build good relationships at the school and respond more quickly to incidents.

"It's a good thing. It's a good thing to have an officer in the school because you have to reach out to the kids. Kids can feel comfortable with that officer, got to him with any problems, if there's any problems within the school," said Andy Haarmann with the Florissant Police Department.

"Students can sometimes grow up and sometimes have this whole fear of the police and what bringing in an SRO to a school helps build positive relationships between students and police officers. And I think that's very positive to our students and community especially in terms of preventing crime," said Diana Gulotta, a spokesperson for Hazelwood schools.

So it's not all a reaction to Sandy Hook, it's about building community.

Gulotta says it will cost the district about $70,000.

Officer Owen starts Monday.


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