IREDELL COUNTY, N.C. - One local school district is taking extra precautions to make sure your children are safe at school.
The changes in Iredell County were put in place after last month's elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn. However, Iredell-Statesville Schools said plans were in the works before it happened.
If you walk onto any one of the 36 school campuses in Iredell County, you may notice more patrol units. For the past three weeks, Statesville police officers and Iredell County deputies have been working in shifts to bring added security to school campuses. It's a first for many elementary schools in the county, which normally aren't equipped with a school resource officer. All middle and high schools do.
Statesville Police Chief Thomas Anderson said he wanted to make sure both children and parents feel safe at all times.
"I just thought that as a department we needed to re-think what our relationship was with the school system," Anderson said.
Police said the new changes are now mandatory. Eyewitness News learned each officer is assigned to either one or two schools. They're encouraged to learn all the details about the school, the entrances and exits, and meet the principal, students and staff. The officers will work in shifts. Some of the schools also have designated office areas for the officers to work in.
"We've got all our software on the school computers. They were donated through the schools. They welcomed us there," said police Capt. Tom Souther.
With the software on the computers, officers are encouraged to use their administrative time at the school. There, they can be a presence on campus and follow up on other leads at the same time.
A mother who spoke to Eyewitness News said the added security helps her to calm her fears.
"When I found out we were going to have more police on campus, it just gave me a little bit more peace to be able to sleep at night,” Elise Scholars said.
Another benefit of the officers on campus is that it will establish relationships and a feeling of trust with the students and officers. It will help detour crime at the same time.
"If there's a relationship in place, it's a lot more likely that we'll hear about it before something bad or tragic happens," said Iredell Major Darren Campbell.
Officers will man the schools daily in addition to their regular shifts. They'll also be required to log their time spent at each school.