D51 implements new safety measures

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Children across Mesa County are back in school after winter break, and quite a few are returning to schools under increased security measures.

Schools have improved their check-in systems, increased on-campus security, and implemented other measures.

"We are going to continue with patrols as they are available with our calls to go to all the schools," said Heather Benjamin, Mesa County Sheriff's Office.

Meanwhile, three county schools installed new keyless locking systems.

"Sometimes, we would have individuals not stop and check in at the office," said Rocky Mountain Elementary principal Patti Virden. "It requires every single person to do that."

"We all really want to keep students safe in schools," said District 51's Christy McGee. "Students can't learn if they don't feel safe."

From new security badges, to new sign-in procedures, the safety measures are in place to give parents a new sense of confidence and one common response.

"They said inconvenience for us doesn't matter if it's for the safety of our children," said Virden.

On a county level, the sheriff's office has only been able to employ one school resource officer (SRO) for the past couple of years, but thanks to a new grant, they will be adding three more officers.

"Finding the right people to fit that grant and those positions will take a little bit more time," said Benjamin.

The first SRO will start at the end of January, and the final two will be added by the end of the year, giving the sheriff's office time to find the schools which meet the stipulations of the grant.

Once it is all said and done, parents can have more confidence in their child's safety.

"Having that increased presence will help students feel safe, help parents feel safe and just have an extra set of eyes on campuses," said McGee.

"It's just so nice to be able to have these things in place and have systems that are easy to follow and really come together as a community for the safety of our children," said Virden.

District 51 encourages the community to get involved and contact the school district or law enforcement with any additional security ideas or suggestions.

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