All school corporations in LaPorte County now have a police presence.
Tri Township School Corp., which consists of LaCrosse High School and Wanatah School, now will have a part-time school resource officer.
LaPorte County Sheriff John Boyd said four deputies in early December began taking turns on their days off from the department to work in those schools.
One officer three days a week goes in and divides time equally in each school. Their time is paid for with a grant obtained by the school corporation.
"It’ll be a work day for them when they’re off,’’ Boyd said.
Both schools are in rural locations. LaCrosse High School has about 100 students, and Wanatah School has around 300 students in grades K through eight.
Nevertheless, Boyd said there’s still a need to address potential issues such as bullying and drugs, as there are in other, larger schools.
"When you look at the frequency of violence that’s occurred in schools, it really isn’t just isolated to inner city schools, and (students at the smaller schools) deserve the same level of protection,’’ Boyd said.
Boyd said just the presence of a police vehicle outside a school often can deter violence or misbehavior, and having an officer present cuts down on response times in the event of an emergency.
"They’re not there as a hall monitor. They’re there for legitimate law enforcement purposes and to have a presence, and to build a rapport with the students, the staff and the families of those communities,’’ Boyd said.
Tri Township school officials talked about having police in the schools for about a year before deciding to go ahead with it on a part-time basis.
A school resource officer was assigned to the New Prairie School Corp. last year. Westville and South Central schools have shared an officer for about three years.
The sheriff’s department has had a presence in the LaPorte School Corp. for a much longer time period, with two deputies currently working in the schools there. Michigan City Police supply the officers who work in the schools in that district.