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South Valley Journal

Another police officer for Riverton middle schools

Nov 07, 2018 03:34PM ● By Jana Klopsch

School resource officers have been shown to increase feelings of safety in staff and students alike. (Riverton City Communications)

By Mariden Williams | mariden.w@mycityjournals.com

Both Oquirrh Hills and South Hills middle schools now have dedicated full-time school resource police officers, a change made in light of a safety advisory meeting held in June.

Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs convened a meeting with local school principals, Jordan School District officials, law enforcement personnel, emergency services personnel and Riverton officials for a discussion on school safety at the local level. A recommendation was made at that meeting that a second school resource officer be added to serve the middle schools in the city, which has since been done.

“The message from the meeting with local school and city officials was loud and clear,” said Staggs. “I’m thrilled that we are able to provide a second school resource officer for our middle schools who will be dedicated to protecting our kids that attend those schools.”

Riverton’s new school resource officer, Officer John Clark, will be joining Officer Dallin Thompson in serving Oquirrh Hills and South Hills middle schools. Clark had previously been assigned traffic control duties in Riverton. The assignment of which officer will work at which school will be made in the days ahead. 

School resource officers are commissioned, sworn law enforcement officers, not security guards. They are deployed by actual police departments—in this case, the Unified Police Department. The National Association of School Resource Officers recommends that school resource officers carry the same equipment that they would on any other law enforcement assignment, although some jurisdictions forbid their officers from carrying firearms on school campuses. 

The presence of police officers in schools has been shown to reduce property damage in and around the school, reduce the need for schools to call 911, reduce the likelihood of students getting criminal records and increase feelings of safety among students and staff. In active shooter situations, they are trained to move directly to and neutralize the threat as quickly as possible.

“With several children in school, I am happy that our city can have an additional school resource officer,” said Councilwoman Tawnee McCay. “This helps reduce truancy and improves relations between young people and police officers. It also helps our students and teachers feel more safe.”

Clark and Thompson aren’t Riverton’s only school resource officers. Officer Tom Loevlie has been in place for some time at Riverton High School, and the city’s elementary schools are served by DARE officer Tom Burton.

According to Staggs, city officials will continue to have conversations with residents, local school officials and school district officials to ensure resources are aligned with the needs of the community and to provide for the best possible public safety.