Bells ISD to hire a campus police officer

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BELLS, TX -- Nearly three months after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary Texoma schools continue to enhance safety and security. Denison police have recently added more patrols at schools and just this week the Bells City Council gave the go ahead to hire a school police officer.

The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary forced parents and school staff across the country to re-think their schools' safety. Here in Texoma the community of Bells formed a security committee.

"All of the school shootings combined, you know it always heightens the awareness and level of concern," Moore said.

Bells Superintendent Joe Moore says the committee agreed hiring a campus officer was the best option.

"The closer they are to us then the quicker, you know, the enhancement of saving lives arises," Moore said.

"I think just the presence alone of having a police officer in school with a full uniform and badge will maybe prevent some people from wanting to come in and harm our children and school staff," Chief Barrett said.

Bells Police Chief Scott Barrett says the officer will drive a Bells patrol vehicle and will be on school grounds full time, but Barrett says the officer will do more than just watch for dangerous situations.

"They'll have to do some different types of programs within the school, the DARE program. They'll help the school do fire alarm drills and things like that and security and safety projects," Chief Barrett said.

Jennifer Moore has two kids in Bells schools and says having a campus officer would be a relief.

"I would feel safer. I think living out in a rural community, anything to help emergency response times would be fantastic and I think this would definitely help, Jennifer Moore said.

For about a month police have increased patrols at Denison schools. Officers say having a strong presence on campus does more than enhance security.

"I think anytime you have an officer around the students it is a very positive thing because it starts building trust and relationships that may not already be there," Lt. Mike Eppler, with Denison Police, said.

Denison parents welcomed the increased patrols and Moore hopes Bells' new officer will provide the same sense of security for his community.

Moore says the new Bells school officer could be hired as early as this spring.

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