Four officers selected for school program

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 6, 2001

Four officers have been selected to patrol schools in the Natchez-Adams School District during the upcoming school year.

Natchez Police Officers Kimberly Allen, Ann Carney, Lee Ford and Clarence Hayes Jr. will serve as student resources officers while working on school campuses.

&uot;We selected veteran officers we believe have the kids’ best interest at mind,&uot; said Superintendent Dr. Carl Davis.

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A U.S. Department of Justice grant of about $350,000 will provide salaries for the officers for three years with equipment being funded locally. Natchez-Adams teacher Pam Hilton wrote the grant and the Natchez Police Department will manage it.

The officers have years of law enforcement experience and many of them work with children in their spare time or have children who attend district schools.

&uot;I deal with the kids a lot,&uot; said Ford who coaches several sports teams for young people. &uot;I feel it would definitely be a deterrent to have a uniformed police officer (on campus).&uot;

The officers have not yet received their assignments but two will be stationed at Natchez High School, one at Natchez Middle School and one at the Central Alternative School.

The officers also will monitor other district schools and will receive help from assistants hired by the school district, Davis said.

Carney thinks working on school campus will help the students get to know police officers and learn not to be afraid of them.

&uot;I think we should just make ourselves available to them,&uot; Carney said.

Allen agreed saying it is important to get on the same level as the young people and &uot;let them know their police officer is their friend,&uot;

Hayes said he did not want students to be in fear while in school.

&uot;I want to make sure all the kids have a safe environment to get an education,&uot; he said.

Natchez Police Chief Willie Huff said the officers will act as the &uot;eyes and ears&uot; of the Natchez Police Department as to what is taking place on school campuses.

&uot;They’re still police officers,&uot; Huff said. &uot;They answer to us and work at the school.&uot;

Davis said he looked upon the student resource officers as a positive addition to the school district.

&uot;This is a proactive way we believe is going to make a difference with our boys and girls,&uot; he said.

Not only will it improve school safety it also motivates the students to show better behavior.

&uot;We found out in the past just the present of a police car on campus helps,&uot; said Dr. Wayne Barnett, director of student activities, security and safety.

The officers will attend an eight-hour training class this month and attend a 40-hour class designed for school officers during the school year.

The school board must vote to allow the officers to carry guns on campus, Davis said.