School safety set to increase

Safety in our schools is always on our minds these days.

From increased security systems to special identifications to the constant presence of law enforcement, schools are always looking for new ways to keep students safe while on campus.

It holds true locally where many of our schools have enacted a variety of preventive measures in recent years. Among those measures is the push to have prevention resource officers – personnel from our local police and sheriff’s departments – on site during the school day.

PROs have been commonplace in our local high schools and middle schools for years. Mainly covered through state grants, the programs have been funded more by local sources in recent years as more communities have started placing their own PROs in schools.

Beginning in the fall, though, the program will expand into Hancock County’s elementary schools, with deputies assigned to Allison, New Manchester and the new Weirton elementary schools.

The costs will be covered by the levy passed by county voters to assist with Weirton Elementary’s construction as well as other facility improvements.

Deputy 1st Class Brian Hissam will be stationed in Weirton, with Deputy 1st Scott Gittings will be at Allison Elementary and Deputy 1st Class Doug Wade will be in New Manchester.

Other deputies will continue to be stationed at Oak Glen High and Oak Glen Middle, while officers from the Weirton Police Department will be at Weir High and Weir Middle.

The PROs in our area provide a variety of services. Not only does their presence served as a deterrent to crimes in the school, PROs also can serve as mediators and, in some respects, confidants when a student feels there may be a danger on school property.

Many times, they also are called upon to lead discussions on topics such as drinking and driving, bullying, Internet safety and drug use.

In other words, their value to our students, our schools and our communities cannot be measured.

We are fortunate to have been able to have PRO programs in our schools for as long as we have, and even more fortunate to see them expanding as a result of the support from our citizens and government leaders.

We look forward to many more years of this successful program.