As kids head back to school today, Tacoma police officers will be patrolling at elementary, middle and high schools to make sure parents and buses come and go safely and the year starts smoothly.
The four-day effort will begin today, the first day of classes for the Tacoma School District.
Traffic officers, community liaison officers and school resource officers will be outside the buildings to watch traffic, keep an eye on who should and shouldn’t be on campus and look for problems before and after school hours. Most will be working their regularly scheduled shifts.
The stepped-up patrols are not in response to any rumors or threats of violence, authorities said.
“We are just providing that huge, visible presence,” said Sgt. Frank Krause, who oversees the Police Department’s school resource program and wrote the plan for the first days of school. “It’s all proactive to head off problems.”
The department has been working with the school district to prepare for the new school year.
“We’ve got common ground – especially at the beginning of a school year – when we want to convey a sense of security to our kids and parents, and TPD wants to review its relationships with the school communities throughout the city,” school district spokesman Dan Voelpel said.
“Right now, it’s about setting a positive tone and relieving some potential stress so the kids can get back to class without distractions and start learning.”
Police also are working with Pierce Transit on a “Not on our bus” campaign, which started Tuesday. The goal is to improve conditions on bus routes, at transit centers and at bus stops near some high schools.
Transit and police officers will conduct spot checks on the buses to make sure conduct codes are being followed.
Pieces of the Police Department’s plan are new this year.
School resource officers were stationed at the high schools at the start of the previous school year, but there was no extra presence at the middle and elementary schools. Police officials did put extra officers at the middle schools at the end of last year and found it helped, Krause said.
“We are incorporating the elementary schools into this more because of a history of traffic issues,” he said.
The school resource officers went to two training sessions over the summer where instructors stressed the need to be visible at the elementary schools.
“We know that traffic issues, parking issues are going to be a concern,” police spokesman Mark Fulghum said.
Stacey Mulick: 253-597-8268