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      District looks to keep kids safe by hiring in-school police officer

      Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District is taking action to create a safer environment for their students and staff by making a request to hire a police officer for one of their buildings.

      The Traverse City Police Officer would work primarily at the Career Tech Building that houses 11-hundred students and 150 staff members, while also being on-call for the other 12 buildings.

      "Someone that's building relationships with every member of the school community, students, staff, a part of our staff," said TBAISD Superintendent, Michael Hill. "A part of our staff. A part of our school family."

      TBAISD officials have been working on the idea of hiring an in-school officer for the last year, and say that with worry from recent national school tragedies, it's just one more step to keeping everyone safe.

      Benzie County Sheriff, Ted Schendel, agrees that an in-school officer can develop relationships with students that can make all the difference in school safety.

      "It opens up an opportunity for us to communicate with the kids," said Schendel. "And it also, by having a good relationship with the kids, it provides us with intelligence if somebody's thinking of doing something nefarious, something that's not legal. Sometimes we'll get information from the kids and it will help us out."

      Schendel says that his department does special training for school tragedies like the recent Colorado incident and others like it, but feels that having an officer who is already inside of the building, can be a big advantage when face with a crisis.

      "Obviously the sooner the better," said Schendel. "The sooner you get on scene the better the chances of apprehending the individual or preventing anyone from getting hurt."

      The board of education has already approved hiring an in-school police officer. Officials are now awaiting approval from the city commissioners.

      TBAISD will provide the funds to hire the officer and says it will cost $80-thousand per school year. If approved, school officials hope to have the officer at the Career Tech Center by the second half of the school year.

      TBAISD conducted a study with state officials in April about improvements they needed to make for school safety. Hiring a school police officer was just one of the recommendations that was made by the state.