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Greenfield Public Schools

Greenfield Police to increase school presence

Greenfield Police Chief Robert Haigh

Greenfield Police Chief Robert Haigh

GREENFIELD — Greenfield Police Chief Robert Haigh Jr. would like to see the town build up its in-school police presence in the coming years, he told the Greenfield School Committee this week.

Haigh said that he is freeing Richard Brook, who is currently acting as the school’s truancy officer, of additional duties so he can focus on the schools full time. The school department is meanwhile working on a grant that could acquire a second officer for the schools.

The school department and police department would each pay half of the costs for the officer, said Haigh and Superintendent Susan Hollins. It’s part of a renewed collaboration between the departments, who recently met to rewrite a 7-year-old policy agreement that outlines how the schools, police and the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office should interact with each another.

The agreement outlines the steps that school officials should take when reporting incidents to the police. In most cases, school officials will be able to report directly to Brook, the school resource officer and a member of the Greenfield police force. The departments agreed in the document to train their employees each year on these procedures.

The policy agreement also includes a provision that will allow police to occasionally bring in drug-sniffing dogs through the schools — a practice that Hollins said already exists but had never been explicitly written out. And it states that students’ lockers can be searched at any time.

Haigh — a former school resource officer for the Ralph C. Mahar Regional School and Orange elementary schools — said the school resource officer can become much more than someone who deals with crime in the schools.

The officer will likely dress often in plain clothes and could have his own office in the high school, where he will spend a majority of his time. The goal, said Haigh, is to have the officer act as another adult resource and mentor for students, which could even involve occasionally teaching classes. He’ll also visit the elementary and middle schools so that students there become familiar with an officer.

Then the officer will work with youth in the juvenile court system during summer vacation — a season where children and teenagers in need can sometimes fall through the cracks, said Haigh.

School attorney Peter Smith told committee members that training of school officials, in conjunction with the police, will be critical. School employees will need to know, for instance, not to taint a police investigation if a crime occurs in one of the buildings.

To read the agreement between the school department, police department and district attorney’s office, go to:

www.recorder.com/ schoolsafetyagreement.

Additions are highlighted in yellow and blue and deletions are noted in struck-through red text.

You can reach Chris Shores at: cshores@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 264

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