Penn Hills School District taking steps to form a school police department

PENN HILLS, Pa. — The Penn Hills school district is taking steps towards forming a school police department.

According to district documents, the board voted in a special meeting last week to authorize administrators to create a school police force which would include petitioning the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas for approval for armed officers.

Documents said the safety of the students is of utmost importance and the recent tragedies have made it necessary for the district to establish a school police department.

“We know what happened with Texas, so, unfortunately, this is the world our children have to live in and we want to keep them safe,” said Omeka Thornton, a community member.

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According to our Trib partners, the school board president said the goal is to have at least one or two armed officers at each school. Positions would be filled by retired police with experience working in schools. A community member thinks it’s a great idea. “I actually think that’s a wonderful idea considering the climate of the world today, at least our kiddos can be safe and that’s the main goal,” said Thornton. “So anything we can do to have our children safe. I think we should all push for it not just at Penn Hills but I think other school districts should consider it.”

The school’s superintendent Nancy Hines told the Trib the new district police force would not replace officers from the Penn Hills police department or the security guards contracted by the district.

“It’s also important for the teachers too because they have families, they have kids, they have lives,” said Thornton “We want to protect along with the kiddos.’

At this time, it’s unclear how much a new police force would cost. The school board president told the Trib it would be paid in large part through a state grant of nearly $323,000 acquired with help from state Senator Jay Costa.

They hope is to have the school police department created within the next two months.

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