Photo by Heather Middleton
By Mehgaan Jones
The Clayton County Sheriff's Office and Clayton County Public Schools have come together to create a prominent law-enforcement presence in the community -- and on school grounds, according to Clayton County Sheriff Kem Kimbrough.
Kimbrough, Dr. Edmond Heatley, superintendent of Clayton's public schools, and John Walker, director of school safety for the county, are creating substations for "law enforcement to get closer to the community," Kimbrough said.
The school district has provided school trailers, which were not in use, to be utilized as substations, according to Kimbrough.
He said there will be four pilot, law-enforcement substations: at East Clayton Elementary School, in Ellenwood; Northcutt Elementary, in College Park; Harper Elementary and Sequoia Middle School ( located on the same property) in Riverdale; and Lovejoy High School, in Lovejoy.
"Not only are we present in the community, but we are also present on school property," Kimbrough said. "We want citizens to have every opportunity possible to make their community safe."
The project will be funded through school safety funds, the sheriff said. "The school district is going to provide us with phone lines, power, and Internet," he said. He added that, for the schools, the funding is not a problem, because the trailers are on school property, and "the connectivity is there."
Kimbrough said the substations will build on the partnership his office already has with the school resource officer program, which includes Clayton County Police officers.
According to Kimbrough, each substation will ideally have an administrative clerk, a supervisor and eight deputies. He said that the presence of the substations will allow deputies to spend more time in the community.
"...The warrants they [deputies] serve, the other civil executions that they serve, any other paperwork that the field deputies need for their jobs, can be moved from the central office out to the substations," said Kimbrough. He added that this will give deputies more time to spend within the communities, instead of going back and forth to the central office.
The substations will also function as a place where citizens can report any incidents or concerns, Kimbrough said. Everyday, when the students come to school and leave school, he said, they will feel the presence of law-enforcement authorities.
Director of School Safety John Walker said that "students will be able to have up-close and personal contact with law enforcement officers."
Currently, the substations are empty, and still have to be outfitted with furniture and equipment. They are expected to be operational in about 30 days, according to Kimbrough.
"I am excited to see this in the community," said Hampton resident, Peggy Ellis, about the Sheriff's Office substations in her area.
Kimbrough said he would like to expand the project in the county, if he is able to secure more funding to operate additional substations.