Rincon Police officers are making their presence known around the grounds of Rincon Elementary School — right down to doing calisthenics with the kids during PE.
Rincon Elementary Principal Paige Dickey told Rincon City Council members she and her faculty and staff welcomed and appreciated the involvement Rincon Police officers have had with the school.
“It has been very positive,” Dickey said.
The principal told council members she felt her school was more prone to questionable visitors, and every person at the school has expressed their gratitude for the police presence.
“This is part of the initiative to reach out to all facets of the community,” Rincon Police Chief Phillip Scholl said. “I think we’re on the road now to where there is an open line of communication between the Rincon Police Department and the board of education.”
Scholl started the program in the wake of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
“We do it at random times throughout the day throughout the school week, whenever students are in session,” he said.
Officers also are trying to get the kids not to be fearful of police, Scholl pointed out.
As an example, Scholl said after one student refused to leave a hallway, a police officer got down to that child’s level to speak with him. The officer returned a couple of days later to check on that student, Scholl added.
The chief also explained that he wants the kids and their parents to see the officers as there to help, not just on duty to crack down on wrongdoing.
“We’ll be at the gas station filling up the patrol car and we’ll see a weary mother with her children trying to get them to sit down in the car and the first thing she’ll say is, ‘if you don’t sit down, I’m going to have that police officer come over here and arrest you,’” Scholl said. “Most kids, unfortunately, they’ll see us in an adverse atmosphere, rather than, hey, we’re here to help you. This changes the light in which they see us.”
Rincon officers have interacted with children and staff in the halls, the lunchroom and even on the PE field, according to Scholl. Every Rincon officer, including the chief, takes part in the school duty.
“We have had very good interaction between the officers and the students, officers and the staff and the officers and the parents,” Scholl said. “The students get to see us and get to know us as their friend. The faculty knows they can count on us when they need us. It’s a little bit more than a face behind a phone call.”