Citizen Patrols Volunteer To Keep Classrooms Safe -

Citizen Patrols Volunteer To Keep Classrooms Safe

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Bill Shuford started a neighborhood watch-style program at Etowah Elementary School. Bill Shuford started a neighborhood watch-style program at Etowah Elementary School.

Bill Shuford doesn't wear a uniform or carry a gun. In fact, Shuford has no law enforcement training.

But the grandfather of kindergarten student at Etowah Elementary is providing an extra of eyes to the school, helping to look for any signs of trouble in the hopes of averting it.

"I patrol the halls and the perimeter of the school at different times of the day," Shuford said.

Shuford is modest about what he's been doing for the past two months.

He came up with the idea to start a neighborhood watch-style program at Etowah Elementary.

Right now, there are three volunteers, including Shuford. They volunteer to work shifts Monday through Friday during school hours.

Shuford says he came up with the concept following the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.

"We just took everything for granted until the bad situation in Connecticut," says Shuford, "and that is the reason why I wanted to do this."

Shuford believes the presence of familiar adults is one of the best ways to calm student's fears.

I think there is a need for us to be able to ensure the general public our schools are safe," according to Principal Mike Thorpe.

Like most schools, Etowah Elementary has increased its security measures. Although, the school doesn't have the budget to staff a full-time resource officer.

"We need to make sure that our kids are safe as they possibly can be," Thorpe said.

Etowah Elementary is the only school in Henderson County using citizen patrols.

District officials hope that more schools will follow Etowah's current program.

"I get a lot of high-fives and smiles, so it is well worth it," Shuford said.

Etowah Elementary is recruiting more volunteers. Shuford says those interested will go through a screening process, but individuals don't have to be a parent or relative of a student enrolled at the school to help.

If you're interested in learning more about the Community School Watch Program, you're asked to call Principal Mike Thorpe at 828-891-6560.

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