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Update: 113, Deerfield Discussing Full Time Police Officer at DHS

New security enhancements at Deerfield and Highland Park High Schools include discussions about adding a full time police officer at Deerfield. Highland Park has had one since 2000.

(Update at 11:20 a.m.) The presence of an armed police officer at Deerfield High School is being considered but not yet a certainty, according to sources from Township High School District 113 and the Village of Deerfield.

As reported on Patch in November, the Village and officials from the District have been talking about putting a community resource officer at Deerfield High School on a full time basis but nothing has been decided.

Both Deerfield Assistant Village Manager Andrew Lichterman and District 113 Communications Director Natalie Kaplan said no final decision has been made.

Deerfield would hire an officer who would be assigned to full time duty at the school, according to Lichterman. The cost would be shared by the Village and the District. Highland Park High School has had a community resource officer since 2000.

(Earlier, at 5 a.m.) District 113 officials plan to spend an additional $400,000 to enhance security at Highland Park and Deerfield High Schools in the next few months.

Changes include enhancing the vestibules at both high schools to slow down the speed at which people enter the school buildings and allow for administrators to get a look at those coming in, according to the District 113 Board Member Bonnie Shlensky. She explained that currently a visitor is checked into the high school already after they've entered it. She said the vestibules would be more controlled.

"They'll know who you are before you're allowed to come in," Shlensky said.

An armed police officer will be posted at Deerfield High School by July 1, Superintendent George Fornero told the Chicago Tribune. Highland Park High School has had one in place since 2000, a year after the Columbine shooting. However, the addition is less intended to improve external security than it is to be a resource for students in the schools, according to Shlensky.

"It brings an awareness to the kids that there is someone in the building," Shlensky said. "It's a big link between the school community and the larger community."

Called a school resource officer, the position entails investigating any crimes committed at the school as well as providing support and direction for students and identifying potential problems to prevent them from escalating, according to Highland Park Police Deputy Chief of Support Services George Pfutzenreuter.

"They report for duty here in the morning but they spend their whole day at the school," Pfutzenreuter said. "We recognize that the school is its own community during the day."

These changes are part of the Master Plan that was recently approved by the board. They were originally slated to be incorporated into the referendum that the board recently approved putting on the April ballot. However, the board wanted to begin the security work this year.

"We're pushing that ahead a year," Shlensky said.

The school board member stressed that these improvements are not a reaction to the Sandy Hook shooting, but a part of an ongoing effort to make District 113's schools safer.

"This isn't a knee jerk reaction to what happened," Shlensky said. "We've always put security and safety in the forefront."

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William d Brown January 24, 2013 at 02:38 PM
Well I wonder what the rt wing, anti public Ed people will say. Spending $ on non educational programs. I suppose since this plays into the fear and terror the gun addicts love so much they will be happy. Personally I am sad that the underlining Civic responsibility and RESPECT for Institutions that was formerly instilled in all Americans has been undermined by the far right and this is what it comes to. Armed guards in the very schools that were once beacons of safety for children.
RonnieTheLimoDriver January 24, 2013 at 07:25 PM
Put the PO in place in Deerfield and be done with it. That is a good use of resources. 400k for security improvements in the building is money well spent as well. I hope this includes more cameras at all the entrances. 400k for Security is a far cry from 30 million for pools. Waiting for a project in the master plan to do this things does not make sense. Meanwhile it has just been announced to the world that there is a police officer and HPHS and not a Deerfield. Now where are the local loons going to go if they decide to go nuts on the place. Put the full time school resource officer in place ASAP and keep the kids safe. I agree with Mr Brown that its too bad we need to do these things, but the reality of the world needs to be dealt with. The majority of downtown buildings have armed guards and secure entrances. Why is the district so worried that discussing this is a reaction to Sandy Hook? It makes sense to make reasonable changes that are relatively inexpensive and do not impair the rights of the citizens / students. Now I would like to see all the schools consider putting in place secure doors in all the class rooms. The same thought process as when we did this in cockpits after 9/11 applies. If during a lock down, the school can close and lock all the class room doors, and they are reinforced, it can provide a temporary safe haven for students and teachers while they wait for help to arrive.
Steve January 25, 2013 at 02:15 AM
I had an SRO in high school and I remember him fondly. I believe this is a great addition to any school. Like the article says, the officer is more of a resource and a connection between the students and law enforcement than protection. A step in the right direction for the kids.
Banks34 January 25, 2013 at 02:39 PM
I think putting a cop in is a waste of $. If there was some crazy shooter kid at the HS, all he would have to do is to befriend the cop, and shoot him first.
RonnieTheLimoDriver January 25, 2013 at 04:12 PM
http://www.live5news.com/story/13805043/school-resource-officer-awarded-top-honors-after-school-shooting?clienttype=printable http://www.timesnews.net/article.php?id=9025899 just two examples of many that prove you wrong. You can search online and see video of the second incident.

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