SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – In 2023, students may notice more Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers in schools.

A statewide initiative is inviting school districts to let troopers come walk the halls.

“Allow us to come in and do walkthroughs, non-disruptive, and in a positive learning environment,” said Sgt. Mike McClure.

McClure said the program aims to increase the visibility of law enforcement in schools.

School districts, like in Hollister, are taking advantage of the opportunity.

“To get to see members from those organizations as people, as friends, as people that they know and trust, that’s going to be something that’s very valuable,” said Elementary and Early Childhood Center Principal Mark Waugh. “Whether it’s here in school, whether that’s out in the community, they know this is an individual that I can go to that cares about me.”

Students in Hollister are already familiar with interacting with law enforcement.

The district currently has a school resource officer.

“They just see us in a normal setting, so it’s not always they’re only here when it’s something bad,” said SRO Bret Taylor. “They can just see us on a day-to-day basis.”

The extra law enforcement presence, Taylor said, should only help.

School leaders said the safety benefits are obvious.

“We can be somewhat reactive if there is a need for enforcement action to be taken in a school,” said McClure.McClure said if parents notice patrol cars in school parking lots to not be alarmed.