Tulsa police will step up patrols at schools
BY ANDREA EGER World Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
12/18/12 at 7:24 AM
Students and educators returned to local schools Monday amid a greater police presence in the aftermath of the massacre of 26 people at a Connecticut elementary school.
The Tulsa Police Department is stepping up patrols around schools and dispatching officers to visit every school site to assist education officials in reviewing their safety and security measures, officials announced at a morning news conference at the Tulsa Public Schools Education Service Center.
"We will have as much collaboration as any two organizations can have," said Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan, standing next to TPS Campus Police Chief Gary Rudick.
Superintendent Keith Ballard said the school district had already taken significant steps to increase campus safety and security over the last five years, including establishing the campus police department in 2007 and investing in security equipment upgrades with funds from a 2010 voter-approved bond issue.
Still, Friday's horrific shooting deaths of students, teachers and administrators in Newtown, Conn., are cause for pause and reflection.
"I am the grandfather of two 6-year-olds who go to school every day. I expect that my 6-year-old grandchildren will come home safe from school every day," Ballard said. "Mayor (Dewey) Bartlett and I have had extensive conversation over the weekend. When things like this happen, we have to ask ourselves, 'Are we doing everything possible?' "
Bartlett called on Tulsa residents to be aware of the behaviors and troubles of those around them at home or school and to report anything of concern for follow-up by authorities.
"That communication is key," Bartlett said. "If there is any doubt, there is a problem with someone's intentions and motives, we need to get a hold of someone."
When asked, Rudick said that adding more equipment - metal detectors and locked doors - isn't as effective in deterring campus crime as having adequate personnel.
"There is no place more intimidating in its equipment - razor wire, bars, armed guards - than a prison, and I don't think anyone wants to spend a night in prison because they don't think it's safe. I don't want to turn schools into prisons," Rudick said.
Rudick, who previously served as a Tulsa police officer and chief of police in Durant, now oversees a campus police department of 23 sworn, certified officers.
He said TPD's pledge to visit every school site in the district and to step up patrols around schools over the next month or so is a significant commitment and investment of its limited resources.
"It shows the priority that schools and children have in the city of Tulsa," he said. "We can't have a police officer at every school. Financially, we have to figure out the best use of our limited dollars. You want to make kids feel safe? It starts with a smiling, effective teacher in the classroom."
Original Print Headline: TPD steps up school patrols
Andrea Eger 918-581-8470
Tulsa Public Schools Police Officer Alvin McDonald checks and shuts a cafeteria exit door at Booker T. Washington High School on Monday. CORY YOUNG / Tulsa World
Tulsa Police Officer Derrick Alexander (left), Booker T. Washington High School Principal James Furch and Tulsa Public Schools Police Officer Alvin McDonald monitor the halls at Booker T. Washington High School on Monday. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World** p2 **Tulsa Public Schools police officer Alvin McDonald checks and shuts a cafeteria exit door at Booker T. Washington High School on Monday. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World** p3 **Tulsa police officer Derrick Alexander (left) and Tulsa Public Schools police officer Alvin McDonald shake hands outside Booker T. Washington High School on Monday. CORY YOUNG / Tulsa World