Sheriff’s new school safety program officially begins

MILL CREEK — An assembly at Woodside Elementary near Mill Creek on Friday marked the launch of the Snohomish County sheriff’s new School Services Unit.

A sergeant and five deputies were pulled from existing units to work as school safety officers serving more than 100 schools in unincorporated county and in cities that contract with the sheriff’s office for police services.

Their job is different from sheriff’s school resource officers, who are typically assigned to one school or a small handful of schools, sheriff’s spokeswoman Shari Ireton said. The school resource officers will share a supervisor with the school services deputies.

Washington schools Superintendent Randy Dorn joined several local police and school leaders at the assembly.

Sheriff John Lovick, school services unit Sgt. Scott Parker and Woodside students and staff talked with reporters afterward.

The school services deputies want to become part of the greater schools community, Parker said. They will serve as enforcement officers but also aspire to become mentors and friends, he said.

“It just builds those relationships and builds that trust in our school communities,” he said.

Kids at Woodside often are reminded they are surrounded by leaders they can go to if something is wrong, Principal Betty Cobbs said. The school services deputies will become some of those leaders, she said.

Lovick wanted to create the special unit after the Newtown shooting at a Connecticut elementary school in December, he said.

Some of Woodside’s students and their parents also talked about the fear they felt after that shooting.

Schools all over have been reviewing their procedures and looking for ways to make campuses safer, Cobbs said.

The school services unit is believed to be the first of its type in Washington, the sheriff said.

The unit has a big job, and Lovick hopes it grows with time, he said.

“You guys are going to work your tails off,” he told the deputies.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.

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