Cops tackle student safety

Published 2:00 am Saturday, January 12, 2013

A move by the Brewton City Council last week put resource officers on campus for all three schools in the system.
The move, according to officials, wasn’t in response to a particular incident but rather as a step in preventing tragic incidents such as the shooting that occurred on a school campus in Connecticut last year.
Brewton City School Superintendent Lynn Smith said the focus of the officers on school campuses will be to provide safety and prevention for students and faculty.
“This hasn’t been done because we have anything going on at our schools that require this kind of action,” Smith said. “It’s just a sign of the times. Typically, everyone thinks nothing could happen here in Brewton, but I’d imagine the people in Connecticut felt the same way last month.”
Smith said the officers will be on campus to learn who each member of the staff and faculty is at each school.
“They will learn who is supposed to be on campus and be able to recognize who isn’t supposed to be on campus to help prevent problems,” Smith said. “A police car will be parked at the school and the officer will be visible to everyone. With that kind of presence at the school, we hope that if someone chooses to do something that it won’t be here.”

Capt. James Hicks can now be seen each day at Brewton Elementary School with Officer Heath Madison on campus at Brewton Middle School and Sgt. Hal Parker at T.R. Miller High School.
BES Principal Ann Lambert said the move is one she is happy to see for the students and staff at the school.
“This has added another layer of safety for our staff and students,” Lambert said. “I think this helps everyone feel comfortable here.”
Hicks, who has already addressed some minor issues at the school, said the change in his duties that put him on the BES campus will be an on-going education process for everyone on campus.
“This is going to be a learning experience for all of us,” Hicks said. “My being here is new for everyone — including me. We will look at some things and determine how we can improve safety for everyone here on campus. We will be looking at what could be improved and make changes accordingly.”
Lambert said some minor, almost unnoticeable, changes have already been made thanks to Hicks’ oberservations and suggestions.
“In our first grade area, we had been allowing one student to bring lunch money and that sort of thing to the office every day,” Lambert said. “After Mr. Hicks got here and looked at some things, we now have an aide go to the rooms and pick up the money. That way, our students don’t leave the classroom. It’s not a huge change, but I believe having an extra pair of eyes that are trained to look for problems can only help us be more safe and safety conscious.”
Hicks said he has already become a fixture at the school — and even got a warm welcome from the students.
“Everyone has welcomed me here with open arms,” Hicks said. “I’m excited to be hre and to be able to provide a sense of safety for the students and staff. I’m here for their protection and they realize that. I think this will be a great experience for everyone.”
Lambert said Hicks’ presence isn’t just about safety — it’s about setting an example.
“He will be a really good role model for our children,” Lambert said. “We have not had any problems here in the past and I don’t expect to have any in the future. He will be here to show the children how to behave and how to be more aware of what goes on around them. I’m excited that the police department and the school system has joined to provide a better sense of security for our students and our staff.”