Seward County Sheriff stepping up presence at schools

On Monday, the Seward County Sheriff’s Office announced they will be stepping up activity in their schools.

Sheriff Joe Yocum said for the rest of this school year, deputies will patrol Centennial School in Utica and St. Paul’s Lutheran School, while also helping the Seward and Milford police with patrolling their schools.

"With the number of violent episodes that have occurred at schools, we feel that part of the answer is the presence of armed guardians," Yocum said.  "And for us, it’s law enforcement should take the lead in providing protection for the schools."

He said currently, no school in Seward County has an armed guardian protecting it every day.

He said his office needs to establish a presence at schools to deter potential attacks even if that means simply having one of their vehicles in the parking lot.

"A person would guess ‘there’s probably an officer there.  There’s a patrol car there, maybe today’s not the day.’"

And Yocum said they’ll be more involved than that.  Deputies will be going into schools, talking to faculty and kids and eating in the lunch room with them to open the lines of communication.

"If they hear something or see something that they say something and report it, that’s important for us to also be mindful of," Yocum said.  "Is that it gives the students an opportunity to come to us and tell us if there’s something going on."

Yocum said it’s sad they feel the need to provide armed officers in schools, but they need to be there for the kids.

He said he’s going to ask the County Board of Commissioners for more funding to have this increased presence on a permanent basis.