An Atlanta Police Officer on school patrol. (Courtesy CBS Atlanta)

(CBS ATLANTA) Marquenta Sands, the Atlanta Public School’s security chief, said she is excited about the new measures in place to keep students and teachers safe as the new school year is underway.

“We have 26 police officers working for the school district and at least one will be assigned to a middle and high school full time,” Sands said.

School security was a major concern around the country last school year following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, and in Atlanta, the shooting of a 14-year-old at Price Middle School and the self-inflicted wounding of a student at Grady High School. This is the first time every A.P.S. middle and high school will have a full-time officer assigned to them.

“People are going to see the same officers every day, week after week after week. They will notice that there is not just a presence, but that the officers are interacting with students as they travel up and down the hallways and in and out of classrooms,” Sands said.

She said the district will also be phasing out 235 part-time officers and sheriff’s deputies and replace them with 73 full-time officers whose only responsibility will be school-related issues. But Sands said securing schools isn’t just about adding bodies.

“Giving them full-time officers so that the officers are able to build relationships with the students and with the staff allows the officers to focus on how they are protecting and serving,” Sands said.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.

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