Jessamine County Schools
Safety Information Series
Part 1 of 6
Law Enforcement Partnerships
You might have wondered why we’re breaking up our district safety conversation into a series of communications. School safety is an Omni-important, multi-faceted issue that requires our constant attention, and it deserves far more than providing a brief listing of our current precautions. We want our community dialogue on this subject to be on-going, in-depth, and as beneficial as possible. Please know that while we cannot share every detail related to our safety protocol, due to confidential security information, we will openly provide all of the information that we can in this series. We would like to begin the series by sharing information about the district’s multiple partnerships with law enforcement.
There has been a lot of talk recently about the importance of having trained law enforcement officers located within schools. Our district is fortunate to have five exceptional full-time School Resource Officers working every day in our secondary schools. Funded through a partnership between the Cities of Nicholasville and Wilmore, Jessamine County Fiscal Court and the school district, the JCS SRO program has been deemed a state model by the Kentucky Center for School Safety. Officers Billy King, Sam Wade, Griff Howard, Adam Teater and Clint Newton work daily to provide safe learning environments in our schools, not only through their police work, but also through forming positive relationships with our students, and helping them to build the capacity to overcome challenges. These law enforcement professionals interact with our students on a daily basis, getting to know them as individuals and helping the SRO’s to identify students who may be in crisis or need additional support. The most recent data indicates that the JCS SRO program has decreased disorderly conduct incidents in our middle and high schools by an astounding 62%, lowered assaults by 44% and reduced the number of thefts by 25%, making our schools safer for students and staff.
You might be surprised to learn that the presence of law enforcement officers in our buildings isn’t just contained to our School Resource Officers at the middle and high schools. During a recent day when I stopped at several of our schools, I was beyond pleased to find that six of the seven that I visited had an officer in the building. Through the “Adopt a School” program, local law enforcement officers are encouraged to stop in at our schools, even just to check in and perhaps, briefly visit with students. Our elementary schools benefit greatly from this positive police presence and we are grateful to our local law enforcement agencies for supporting this practice.
We are fortunate to be in a community where a true partnership exists between law enforcement and our school district. Each and every decision that we make on safety and security is reached with the utmost consideration of how we will work in tandem with our local law enforcement partners. When district and local officials share information and work together on a regular basis, we are all better equipped to respond swiftly and appropriately to challenges to safety and security. Local law enforcement has been provided with the information and tools that they need to more effectively respond to an emergency in our schools, including keys, blueprints, and electronic copies of our emergency plan. In order to facilitate immediate communication at any hour, district and school administrative teams and local law enforcement share cell phone numbers. These and other proactive measures will assist if the need to respond arises.
The review, practice, and revision of emergency plans and procedures is paramount to an effective response to a real emergency. JCS administrators meet annually with the Nicholasville Police Department, Wilmore Police Department, and the Jessamine County Sheriff’s Department to review safety procedures and revise them as necessary. In the last five years, our local police agencies have helped us to implement four intruder training exercises for staff. Law enforcement officials present on safety at school staff meetings, participate in some of our safety drills, and they also help us to evaluate the effectiveness of our drills. They provide guidance to the district on the prioritization of safety initiatives and the funding of safety items. The Kentucky State Police have assisted our district as well, conducting a Run, Hide and Fight training for our staff, equipping them with the knowledge of how to better train and protect our students.
We view safety as everyone’s responsibility in our district. We also have a district –level administrator who coordinates and oversees our safety measures. The Office of Student Services is tasked with the investigation of information relayed through the district’s STOP tip line, used to report bullying or other safety concerns. This link can be found at the bottom of each school website as well as on the district website.
Our collective goal is to utilize proactive measures to prevent threats to the safety of our students and staff. One way we do this is to learn from each practice event as well as each real-life event that takes place. For the past three years, following emergency events in Jessamine County, school district leadership has met with the Nicholasville Police Department to debrief, assess our actions, and if necessary, revise our future response to crises. All potentially serious threats to safety are investigated in tandem with local law enforcement as well.
I hope that this overview of our partnerships with law enforcement has given you some insight as to what we’re doing behind the scenes to work together with these agencies to ensure the safety of our students and staff. Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns about our safety collaborations with local and state law enforcement.