NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — The Newport News School Board focused on security at its last meeting before the first day of school Tuesday.
In the months since the shooting at Richneck Elementary School, several changes have been made, including increasing law enforcement presence in the hallways.
The district’s most recent update? An increase of 45 new security officers, putting the total at 115. Of those 115, 13 are sworn Newport News police officers.
Tuesday’s school board meeting started off with a moment of appreciation for the police officers who protect and serve the Newport News community and the city’s public schools.
“Following several tragic events that impacted our school communities, the Newport News Police Department committed to ensuring the wellbeing, safety and security of our students and staff,” said school board chair Lisa Surles-Law.
Surles-Law awarded Police Chief Steve Drew and his department a resolution of thanks.
Meanwhile, Robert Stewart, a former NNPD officer and new executive director of the district’s crisis planning, prevention and response team, presented the public with a safety update for the start of school.
“As you know our safety plan is layered and involved many different pieces,” Stewart told board members.
45 new security officers, 10 substitute security officers and three SRO supervisors were hired this upcoming school year.
“It’ll be mirrored with our police department’s north, south and central precincts and that will allow these three supervisors to move quickly from school to school,” Stewart said.
The officers, Stewart said, have undergone new training with a focus on being more proactive.
“To solve problems before bad things happen,” Stewart said.
In addition to looking for potential problems, every school is now equipped with a weapons detection system, including the district’s administration building. Clear backpacks will also be handed out at the start of school on August 28.