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Police more visible in Quaker Valley schools

| Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, 12:01 p.m.

In what school officials are calling a “proactive measure,” unannounced police walk-throughs are happening across Quaker Valley School District buildings.

Quaker Valley Superintendent Joseph Clapper said he wants to increase the “communication and visibility of our local police forces.”

“There's certainly a vital relationship between a school building and local police,” he said.

The unannounced police walk-throughs will be conducted by local police departments with uniformed officers, district spokeswoman Tina Vojtko.

Police visited Osborne Elementary School last Friday, Vojtko said.

No specific incidents in the district prompted the walk-throughs, she said.

During the 2011-12 school year, Quaker Valley ­— with an enrollment of 1,943 ­— reported 14 safety-related incidents, 11 of which involved local law enforcement, according to state Department of Education records.

During that same time period, Carlynton School District ­— with a reported enrollment of 1,426 — reported 24 incidents with three involving local law enforcement, according to records.

With an enrollment of 1,517, Avonworth School District officials reported nine incidents with no law enforcement involved, according to data during the 2011-12 year.

Across the state, eight incidents were reported during that period to involve an adult visitor or intruder, according to records. None of those incidents occurred in Allegheny County.

School district officials self-report incidents to the state Department of Education.

Since the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., school districts across the country, including Quaker Valley, have been re-evaluating safety procedures, Vojtko said.

Two Quaker Valley buildings — Osborne and Quaker Valley Middle School — are located within the Sewickley Police Department coverage area. Edgeworth police respond to incidents at Edgeworth Elementary School. Quaker Valley High School is served by the Leetsdale Police Department.

“Quaker Valley has always benefited from the partnership and cooperation of its local police departments,” Clapper said. “We continue to be grateful for their guidance and leadership as we work together to keep our school community safe.”

Building principals were instructed to call individual police chiefs to help build the relationship between the local building and its police department, Clapper said.

In-school patrols would be conducted in addition to having district resource Officer Bob Wright on site daily, Clapper said.

Wright, an armed officer, is stationed at the high school but works throughout the district's four buildings when necessary, Clapper said.

Clapper said having an armed officer is “a good thing these days.”

Bobby Cherry is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or rcherry@tribweb.com.

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