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      Grand Traverse Sheriff's Department propose putting officers back in schools

      The Grand Traverse County Sheriff's Department is proposing to bring some officers back into area schools.

      In 2005, four liaison officers were assign to schools in Grand Traverse County. Today there are none.

      The sheriffs department talked to commissioners at tonight's meeting about resurrecting some form of the program.

      "I think the big added value to our school district is that we would strengthen that bond between local law enforcement officials and the community of students and parents that we have," said Traverse City Area Public Schools superintendent, Steve Cousins. "And I think that's a great thing to do."

      "It helps the sheriff's department solve some crimes and some things in the area, but it also gives the students somebody that they can talk to in the unfortunate event that there is an there is an incident at the school it's nice to have these relationships so it's not the first time that you're meeting one of the officers, said Kingsley Area Schools superintendent, Keith Smith"

      The sheriffs departments proposal is to assign two uniformed road patrol officers to opposite ends of the county who will then be assigned to visit the schools on a daily basis. The patrolmen will also be known as school resource officers and assist any schools in the county with complaints or issues.

      Under this plan, the sheriffs department says the schools will not be financially affected. Kelly Hall, president of the school board, said at Wednesday's meeting that they fully support the idea, look forward to working with the sheriff's office, and although both are working under constrained budgets - if funding is available they can work toward having more than just two officers.

      Wednesday's meeting was about introducing the program plan, and the entire commission approves the idea of having the uniformed patrol officers in the schools.

      The Grand Traverse County Sheriff, Tom Bensley, stated, "I think it's a good use of our resources, and re-connecting with the schools-we've lost that connection. We hope that it will be successful. We're going to try to implement this as soon as we get everything figured out and exactly how it's going to operate."

      7&4 will continue to follow this story and keep you updated on any details regarding the new program.