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As the school year begins, one of the topics on everyone’s mind involves student safety. Are the students of the Coffee County School System safe, protected, and shielded as much as possible from any of the various bad occurrences that have been taking place at schools in other parts of the country?
While no one can eliminate all of the risks from the various activities in which people engage daily, including going to school, Coffee County schools are as safe as they possibly can be. And one of the reasons why is because of the Coffee County School System’s police department.
Even though the school system’s police force predates the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of people still don’t realize that there is a law enforcement agency dedicated exclusively to the public schools of Coffee County. The department operates in a similar fashion to the South Georgia State College police department: The officers are certified police officers with full law enforcement authority over their jurisdictions.
Chris Elrod, a law enforcement veteran with 29 years of experience in the field, serves as the school system’s chief of police. “Our ultimate goal is to create a school system where students and staff go home the same way they came, maybe just a little smarter,” says Chief Elrod. Chief Elrod has been head of the school’s police department since the start of its program in 2019.
In 2018, the board decided to have a police department that was specifically designated to the school system in Coffee County. There are 12 full time officers in the department and about 10 officers who work in the school system part-time. A lot of these officers have been working in the police force for quite some time and all of them have the same authority as any other police officer in the county. The department’s objective is to have an officer at every school in the system.
According to Chief Elrod, their most important responsibility is to keep all students and staff members safe at all times. Throughout the day, the police officers are checking doors, monitoring the halls, and ensuring that the schools are a safe and secure environment for anyone on campus.“We’re grateful to have this department and be able to do what we do,” states Chief Elrod. “We’re looking forward to another fantastic — and safe — school year.”
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