Grant money allows Burlington police to do more in schools

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BURLINGTON, N.C. -- It’s common to see police officers in schools, but you don’t always see them at the front of the classroom.

State grant money is allowing Burlington police officers to do more in continuing its relationship with students and schools.

“This year we decided to have programs for them that we feel will be very beneficial,” Sgt. Wendy Jordan said.

Officers sign up to visit classrooms on their days off and teach children about important safety lessons such as bullying and “stranger danger.”

The officers will also interact with children outside of the classroom, such as when they are in the gym, in the cafeteria or in the media center.

The goal is to have as many encouraging interactions with the students as possible.

“We want their opinions about us and their first impressions to be very positive and not just see us when something has gone wrong,” Jordan said.

“That’s probably the number one reason why I’m doing this. I don’t want kids to automatically think I’m going to shoot them just because I have a gun -- or always arrest them,” Officer Byron Watson said.

About 15 to 20 officers volunteer to participate.

It’s not a mandatory initiative.

The program focuses on elementary schools because school resource officers are already placed within middle schools and high schools.