In 2013 the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office began its School Safety Program. This program is in addition to the Sheriff’s Office’s full-time School Resource Officers. It gets deputy sheriffs in schools throughout Kanawha County, mornings and afternoons. The deputies are able to interact with students, coordinate with administrators, and build stronger relationships with parents.
Being in the schools allows the deputies to anticipate problems, or introduce solutions before things get out of control. In addition to acting as deterrents to those who would target schools for violence and criminal activity, the deputies are also checking the physical security measures and working with the school staff to make incremental improvements. The most satisfying product is building a bond of trust with students that may grow for years.
Through Operation GPA deputies aim to keep students and the public safe during prom and graduation ceremonies. It involves teaching students about the dangers of combining drugs and alcohol with driving, then aggressively patrolling the areas where the events are held. Underage drinking stings are scheduled around the events, so businesses are discouraged from selling to those who would furnish alcoholic beverages to minors. And the communities involved are saturated with deputies, local police officers, and troopers from the West Virginia State Police. Together with the high school principals, we have seen no tragic accidents related to these events since the program started in 2005.
These programs are made possible through access by the Kanawha County Board of Education and funding from the Kanawha County Commission and Public Safety Grant Committee.