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Authorities increase patrols at schools in Pitt County

By Amanda Brannon
Published On: Dec 17 2012 05:46:14 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 17 2012 05:55:38 PM CST
GREENVILLE -

Greenville Police and Pitt County Sheriff's Office deputies added more patrols near schools as students returned to class for the first time since the deadly shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut.

"We want school to be a safe and normal place. We don't want our kids to know that [the shooting] happened unless they have questions or concerns about it," Dr. Beverly Emory, Pitt County Schools Superintendent said.

Greenville Police do not feel there is a threat for the schools in Pitt County, but they wanted to increase police presence anyways.

"We wanted to provide a higher visibility of officers at our elementary schools around the city. Uh, again just to reassure people to know that things are safe here," Sgt. Joe Friday said.

That is something parents were happy to hear as they dropped their kids off and headed to work.

"You have to take extra precautions because you never know who is going to copycat or who is going to try and do the similar activity," Peaches Reese, a parent, said.

"Yes, that gives me some security you know just seeing that there's policemans around and things like that...Maybe they can continue this you know keeping extra policemans and stuff around," Jessica Aguirre, a parent, said.

Dr. Emory said the school system does have a crisis reponse plan in place. In the last five years, they have increased security, including requiring ID badges for anyone visiting a school.

"We need to know whose in our building, where they are going and are they authorized to be there," Dr. Emory said.

School officials encourage parents and community members to let them know if they see anything suspicious going on at the schools.

Currently, only middle schools and high schools have school resource officers due to budget cuts.

School officials said counselors were on hand to speak with students who had concerns about the deadly shooting.