Small Towns Discuss School Safety

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Small communities need to stick together. That's the message out of the Village of Webberville on Monday night, where the Ingham County Sheriff's Office hosted a parent forum to hear their concerns following the shootings in Connecticut.

When grandmother Patti Beavers heard about the Sandy Hook shootings, she couldn't help but worry.

"I was so scared the other day, that I wanted to go to the school and grab my grandchildren, bring them to my house with me," Beavers said. "I didn't want to leave them there."

That's a concern many grandparents and parents are feeling now, especially in small towns, and the Mayor of Webberville wants to change that.

"It's our responsibility as a community to make sure we do the best we can with law enforcement and to monitor this," Mayor Brad Hitchcock said. "I immediately thought of what precautions can we take to make sure this doesn't happen, and that's what I want to do."

As a brand new mayor, sworn in less than a month ago, he said parents have already started calling to discuss safety in schools, and he has ideas.

"I was thinking some kind of swipe card to make sure you knew who was coming in and out of the school," Mayor Hitchcock said. "But I'm pretty sure at this point, they're probably going to have to be metal detectors to make sure this doesn't happen."

Before metal detectors happen, there will be more parent forums and discussion with law enforcement. The Ingham County's Sheriff's Office said they're prepared for any situation, no matter if it's in Webberville, Williamston, or elsewhere.

"Every officer in this county is trained and cross-trained with each other," Deputy James Cousino said. "So, we work as one cohesive group."

That training is a necessity that leaves some people missing the good ol' days.

"It's important that everyone knows what's going on with their children," Beavers said. "More now so than 30 years ago. It's scary."

The forum was also used to address concerns about opiate use in schools.

Ingham County Sheriff's Office said a string of robberies this fall were all connected to heroin addicts needing to steal in order to get more money for drugs. Now they want to be proactive in the community, educating teenagers about the dangers and talking with parents.

Another meeting is planned for January.

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