Police step up patrols in Montco school district

January 2, 2013 3:40:05 PM PST
The deadly school shooting in Newtown, Conn. has prompted police to step up patrols in the Upper Merion Area School District.

Upper Merion Police say officers will conduct random foot patrols of district schools during the day beginning Wednesday.

The unannounced patrols started today.

"We want to create the appearance that the police are always here or just around the corner from being here," Upper Merion Police Department Chief Tom Nolan said.

Officer Harry Nuskey was a visible presence inside Upper Merion Middle School Wednesday.

The police offered the indoor patrols shortly after the massacre in Connecticut.

The school district quickly accepted.

To avoid undue alarm, parents and administrators were alerted before the patrols started today.

"We went through a process of talking about it at our safe schools meetings which all of our building administrators attend and I send out a Connect-ED message which is an electronic message that we send out to parents letting them know that we were doing this," Upper Merion School District Superintendent Jane Callaghan said.

School districts around the country reevaluated their security efforts after the slaughter at Sandy Hook Elementary.

Upper Merion has added this extra level of protection and parents are glad to see it.

"I'm glad to see them out there and I know our police department works with the schools. I read the articles online about it and it seems just like a positive thing," parent Eva Smith said.

Upper Merion has 4,000 students in eight schools.

Upper Merion Township says the Bridgeport Police Department has agreed to step up foot patrols at Bridgeport Elementary School.

In a statement, Upper Merion Police Chief Tom Nolan said: "With each school shooting incident that occurs across the country we have re-evaluated what we are doing to prevent this tragedy in Upper Merion Township. Our main goal is to make these schools a less appealing target because any potential actors will be aware that the police are often at the school and may arrive at any moment."

The school district has given the police department key cards to access district school property.