School safety: Officers placed at all Joliet schools?

As the school year came to an end for students in Joliet earlier this month, Mayor Bob O’Dekirk addressed questions circling the subject of safety.

“Unfortunately, as the year went on, school safety became a bigger and bigger issue in our country,” Mayor Bob O’Dekirk said. “I get a lot of feedback from people who have a lot of questions about what we do, here, in Joliet.”

At a recent meeting of the Joliet City Council, O’Dekirk presented an idea to Chief of Police Brian Benton, calling for the placement of officers in all schools.

The elementary schools do not currently have school resource officers in their buildings.

Following the recent school shootings in Parkland, Fla. and Dixon, Ill., other community leaders have taken steps to move the conversation forward on safety concerns, as well. In March, Joliet Township High School District 204 superintendent Dr. Cheryl McCarthy addressed the matter at a Coffee and Community Conversation.

Schools in Joliet, like many across the nation, have faced tests to keeping students, faculty and staff safe.

A false alarm reported at Joliet Central High School resulted in a lockdown last fall. A short time later, school and law enforcement officials indicated that the threat to safety was deemed unfounded.

In April, an investigation into a threat to Dirksen Junior High was found not credible.

O’Dekirk acknowledged that questions for logistics and cost may arise if Joliet places officers in all of its schools and raised the idea of forming partnerships with the school districts to make it possible.

“Maybe we could take a look at this and see if there’s something more that we can do than what we’ve done so far,” he said.

O’Dekirk also wants Benton to report at a later date with a comprehensive report on what Joliet Police do to keep students, staff and faculty safe in school.