EDMOND — A school shooting half a continent away has led to a Catholic elementary school getting a full-time law enforcement officer.
With the help of a federal grant, Oklahoma County Sheriff's Deputy Ryan Locklear is nearing the end of his first month as school resource officer at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Edmond.
Parents, staff, students and Locklear appear to be content with the arrangement.
“I had the children come in and say, ‘I really like the police officer,'” Principal Angie Howard said.
For the school, it's another layer of security, which brings more peace of mind.
On Dec. 14, 2012, a gunman in Newtown, Conn., killed 20 students and six adult staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary.
St. Elizabeth's, with more than 350 students from grades pre-K to eight, already had security in place. For years, there has been just one entrance to the school, and all visitors are screened, Howard said. Yet parents wanted more, and the Parent Teacher Organization got involved.
“Safety of the children is the top priority,” said PTO President Cynthia Keenan.
Grant helps 4 schools
Various options were considered. One was to hire off-duty Edmond police officers, as is the practice at Sunday Masses at the school's parish, St. John the Baptist Catholic Church.
In the spring, St. John's parishioner and Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel applied for the Department of Justice COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) grant. Whetsel described the application process as very competitive.