Archive for Wednesday, December 15, 1999

Police officer to spend more time at high school

December 15, 1999

Tonganoxie City Council members Monday night threw their support behind a proposal to increase the number of hours police officers spend each week at the high school.

Monday night's discussion was prompted by a junior high school student's threat against a teacher last week. That student was suspended from school for the remainder of the semester, school officials said.

Police officer John Putthoff and Darren Neas, vice principal at the high school, said they do not want to take these types of threats lightly.

At the direction of the council, they will develop guidelines and establish a committee to ensure the community takes a proactive approach to future problems.

The council, police and Neas do not want Tonganoxie to suffer from the same type of school violence that has plagued other towns in the United States.

The council agreed Monday night that further steps should be taken to prevent threats to teachers or students and weapons in the schools.

Putthoff said he and high school administrators have agreed that local police should take a more active role in dealing with threats to students or teachers.

Previously, school officials many times would merely file police incident reports, rather than call police at the time of a threat.

This year, high school officials have called police two or three times about threats, Puthoff said.

Council members agreed that although Tonganoxie is a small town, they do not want to take the chance of anything happening.

"We definitely need to be proactive," said Kathy Graveman, council member. "We cannot sit back and say that this is a small town and it is not going to happen here."

Putthoff wants to develop a closer relationship with the student body, playing a more positive role, rather than merely visiting the school after a problem has occurred.

Neas told council members that he believes it would benefit students if Putthoff were able to spend time in classrooms discussing crime prevention techniques.

"We don't need a full-time officer at the school," Neas said. "We feel like we have a pretty good handle, but we do need the resources."

Chris Eppley, city administrator, agreed.

"The majority of our daytime population is in the high school complex and the grade school," he said. "I think it would be justified for the community to expend the resources. It is a good idea for him to be there."

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