New resource officer aims to give Johnston City, IL, students peace of mind

JOHNSTON CITY, IL — Schools everywhere are taking steps to prevent shootings. That includes Johnston City Schools in Illinois, which just hired its first resource officer in many years.

“They wonder. It’s almost turning into will it happen here to when will it happen here,”  said Johnston City High School Principal Richard Ozment.

No matter where they happen, the impact of school shootings is felt all across the country.

Ozment hopes hiring a new resource officer from the Johnston City Police Department will help ease any fears in the community.

“Back in August one of the officers came forward with an interest to really take over the school resource officer role. All of the schools around us either had one or were getting one,” said Ozment.

That officer will protect all four schools in the district. In addition to walking the halls, checking the cameras, and monitoring locks and doors he will also be a mentor.

“We envision him actually being some sort of a teacher — teaching the students and the teachers what to do in certain situations,” said Ozment.

Thomas Walden has four kids, and he said having the resource officer on school grounds will give some parents peace of mind.

“I’ve gotten phone calls and text saying early dismissal due to bomb threats, or unidentified people in the area, or threats made over the phone. It’s nice to have that conscience-clearing effect of having somebody on site,” said Walden.

The school has taken several other steps to increase safety. They put the visitor parking lot in the back of the building and created a new office entrance to put a barrier between the students and the public. The students are also required to keep their backpacks in their lockers. They have several cameras placed around the building.

“That’s a first line of defense type of thing. If we don’t know who it is, they can come into the office and check them in,” said Ozment.

With those safety precautions, students can focus on their education — because no student should have to choose between learning and safety.