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Police Have Increased Presence At Hilliard Schools
COLUMBUS (James Jackson) -- Police in one central Ohio community are beefing up security at elementary and middle schools while building relationships with students.
Hilliard Police have made school visits part of their daily routine.
"We'll walk the school, make sure doors are secure," Officer Dustin Vance said. "We'll look out for suspicious activity."
Vance keeps his eye on more than 800 students at Memorial Middle School as well as 19 other elementary and middle schools in the community.
He said tragedies across the country, including the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, have him paying more attention.
"It has raised our awareness level in the schools," Vance said. "Unfortunately, they are a vulnerable target."
Principal Barry Bay said parents appreciate the police presence at the schools.
"I think it's an opportunity to build those bridges between the community, the police department, the parents, the students," Bay said. "I just think it lets them all see that we're working together."
Vance said the best part of his job is building relationships with students. He said he's never run into any problems at Memorial Middle and hopes it stays that way.
So committed is Hilliard to keeping schools safe, the city has hired a retired officer to patrol the schools as well.