DEXTER, MO (KFVS) - Students and staff at high schools in southeast Missouri might feel a little safer when they see troopers walking the halls this school year.
Officers with Troop E of the Missouri State Highway Patrol will be continuing a 'School Walk-through Initiative' which officially started three years ago.
Sgt. Clark Parrott says he stops by a variety of schools in the area about three to four times a week when classes are in session. The other 91 troopers on staff have one or two schools specifically assigned to them.
"They go stop by as kids are getting to school early, they may stop in for lunch or go by at recess," Sgt. Parrott said. "It's just a visible presence that we have. Our cars are parked out front the troopers are walking through talking with the kids and it's a way to build relationships with the administration."
Parrott says they're been interacting with schools since the Highway Patrol formed in 1931, and says that will continue the effort well into the future.
"That way whenever something critical does happen, they can count on us to show up," he said.
Parrott says troopers trained eyes can help make things more safe and secure that might otherwise be overlooked.
"We come in and look at it and say why is that door open? Why is that door not locked?" Parrott said. "Because you get complacent with locked doors and that sort of things."
C.A. Counts is the superintendent of Dexter schools, and believes a troopers expertise will help keep his campuses safe.
Counts also thinks that troopers can give advice to a new school resource officer they hired to look over the 500 students at Dexter High School.
"With some of the tragic events in the spring it really kind of shed a little bit more of a light on the need," Count said. "An SRO is not the end all answer but it can really go a long way to making your campus safer. You want kids to come to school and feel safe."
The school walk-through initiative is also a chance for officers to get to know students and break the tension and have fun students.
"You can tell once you are in a school a couple of times, the newness wears off and it's like what is the trooper doing here?" Parrott said. "Third or fourth time it's like 'Hey trooper. How are you doing? Why don't you come sit with us and eat with us?' High five in the hallways that sort of thing."
Sgt. Parrott says troopers can also be available to help schools with security during games and other large events.