PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Kids at Quaker Valley Middle School hurry off to their next class.
Once the hallways are empty again, about a dozen police officers from all over western Pennsylvania access the school and its safety, as part of a national training program.
Joe Kozarian is leading the training through the National Association of School Resource Officers.
This week, officers will spend 40 hours, learning how to talk with students, look for signs of child abuse and how to keep the school safe.
“If we know that he’s in that school and can prevent or deter any type of danger or any type of crisis towards the kids, then that’s why they’re in there for the school,” Kozarian said.
The Quaker Valley School District already has a school resource officer that’s had extensive training.
He says one the most important things to take away from the sessions is engaging the kids.
“What we’re trying to do is bridge the gap between the students and the police out in the community,” Officer Aaron Vanatta said.
“This takes the officers that worked out in the street and puts them in a school environment. Where they become part of the school, they become part of the staff,” Kozarian said.
Some of the officers in this week’s training will continue on to advanced training, scheduled for this summer, where they’ll learn more about crisis prevention and risk assessment in the school.