Police Chief, Cops will Work from Schools in Jordan, Minn.

Posted at: 02/18/2013 5:43 PM
Updated at: 02/19/2013 12:44 PM
By: Maricella Miranda

Jordan Police Chief Bob Malz will soon get a new office - in the city's high school.

Malz, a police detective and an officer will be moving their offices to schools in Jordan, Minn., a small town south of the Twin Cities.

The city and school district are working on the plan that would place police satellite stations in all the city's schools.

The plan, approved this month, says the officers would rotate between the city's elementary, middle school, high school, alternative school and a private school.

The city's private school, St. John the Baptist School, are notifying parents today through email about the plan, said Bonita Jungles, principal. Jungles and the school's priest adopted the plan without a school board vote.

An officer will be at the private school four days a week, and always on funeral days, she said.

Satellite offices at schools would reduce police response time at the schools from three to four minutes to 30 to 60 seconds, Malz estimates.

The new offices would face a large window overlooking the schools' front doors. Police would have computers connected to their internal police system. However, police business, such as suspect interviews, would be done at the main station - away from school.

Malz said he and the other officers would continue answering service calls during the school day. But much of their days would be spent inside the schools.

"Together what we can do is to utilize our current resources to implement viable preventative measures," Malz said in his proposal. "By working together toward a common goal we will be doing what we can within our means to minimize our vulnerability to attack in our schools."

Jordan officials say the city would be the first in Minnesota to have police satellite stations in all their schools.

"In my opinion, it’s time for us to do something to protect children and staff in schools," said Jordan City Councilman Thom Boncher. "It’s almost 14 years since Columbine."

City, police and school officials collaborated to make the change in response to recent school shootings throughout the country. Last December, a shooter at an elementary in Newtown, Conn. killed 20 first-graders and six educators.

We asked "how can we create more safety in our community and within our schools," said Jordan City Councilwoman Tanya Velishek.

Within the past few days, the large windows have been installed near the front doors of Jordan's elementary and middle schools. The high school already had such a window.

Next, workers will be setting up police computer systems for the satellite offices.

The plan is estimated to cost $20,000, Malz said. The money will pay for new computers and the window installation. Furniture has been donated for the satellite offices.

So far, Velishek said feedback about the change has been positive.

But Boncher said he has heard some negative comments about the idea.

"It's not perfected yet, and there isn’t universal acceptance in Jordan," he said. "But unless and until someone comes up with something better, I believe (the police chief's) plan to create sub-stations in schools is worth doing."

Police currently go into the schools to help with programs, such as D.A.R.E., and to patrol school buses. But "this was another attempt to put them in the schools," Velishek said.

Under the plan, Malz wants to start a committee that would review perceived threats against students and staff. He also wants to educate the community on how to identify and report early warning signs for individuals who might become a threat to schools.