West Memphis Police increasing security at schools

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Students returning from spring break in West Memphis will see a change when they return to school. Starting next week, every school will have a police officer assigned to their campus.

West Memphis Police Department said officers will be at six elementary schools, 3 middle schools and the high school in the district.

Adrianna Nelson is just like the scores of other parents whose children attend West Memphis Schools. When she drops them off and says goodbye in the morning, she wants her children to be safe.

"Times are changing. Our children are changing," Tawana Bailey, Outreach Coordinator with the West Memphis Police Department said.

Previously, officers were only at two junior high schools and the high school. But the plan to expand to all schools is multi-faceted.  Officials want students to be able to have regular interaction with police officers and are pushing the community policing approach. Also, in the wake of what we've seen nationally with school shootings and violence, they say it's important to already have an officer at the school.

This also goes for on-campus fights between students as well.

"We feel like if we can have the officers already in the schools, and the kids get used to seeing the officers in the schools, then maybe that can deter some of those fights that are going on on our campuses," Bailey said.

But there's a bigger community aspect to this, officials say the majority of crime they see in the city is committed by young people, 23 and under. Bailey hopes resource officers can provide a sort of mentorship. "We say, if you can catch a kid fifth grade and under, then you have the opportunity to change their life. So that's why we're going more toward the community-oriented policing style as well," she said.

Bailey says the money for the extra officers comes from the partnership between the district and police department.

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