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Heightened Security for the New School Year

At least two Ozarks school districts hired resource officers over the summer and changed the way students can enter buildings.
HOLLISTER, Mo. -- Ozarks school districts will bring more armed police officers into their buildings this year in response to heightened security concerns.

In light of last year's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., many schools are installing new equipment and procedures to prevent dangerous intruders.

One school district, Hollister R-V, is putting in an alarm and electronic entry system in addition to the hiring of a school resource officer.

Randall Hey, who taught DARE classes at the school last year, started Monday with the high school.

Hey is a member of the Hollister Police Dept. and wears a black uniform and carries a gun and handcuffs.

Despite this, he said, he's tried to interact with the students on a friendly, yet authoritative basis.

"I want to be a positive role model in law enforcement," Hey said. "They'll find comfort in an officer in a uniform rather than fear."

Chris Ford, the former principle of the high school and current assistant superintendent, stressed that officers like Hey represent a secure presence, but not a security guard.

"He is there for the safety of our kids," he said, "to build relationships with our kids. But there is an aspect of safety."

The Branson school district decided to hire an officer for the upcoming school year,  too.

Chip Arnette, the principle of Branson High School, said the new policeman would start in October at the junior high.

"If you look around on campus," he said, "we did a lot of things this summer to increase our safety measures."

Branson, like Hollister, modified it's lobby entrances to all the district's buildings.

The front doors are now locked, and all visitors are routed through the main office.

The school's current resource officer works with grades 9-12, and responded to more than 15 incidents last year.

"Anytime you can put a police presence on a campus, Arnett said, "it at least gives you the feeling of being more secure."

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