Field Local School District adds a second school resource officer in wake of Sandy Hook tragedy

BRIMFIELD, Ohio - It's a topic on everyone's mind: Just how safe is your child's school?

It's been nearly one year since the Chardon High School shooting and two months since the Sandy Hook shooting. That tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut is a driving force behind brand new changes at one northeast Ohio school district. 

The Field Local School District, which is comprised of Brimfield and Suffield townships, is making sure its schools never make national headlines for the wrong reasons.

Officer Kelly Sonagere begins her day before the sun comes up. 

"You just have to keep your head on a swivel and make sure you're paying attention,"  she said while directing traffic outside of Field High School. She and Officer Brett Dinkelman are Brimfield's two school resource officers, or SROs. They are school cops.

They walk hallways while armed and check all exterior doors.

"I'll open the door and check around outside to make sure no one is hanging out outside. Then I'll make sure it's locked and shut all the way. Then I send an email out to the principal to let them know everything is OK," she said while on hallway patrol.

Every few months they conduct a lockdown drill, including one in mid-February at Field High School. The goal is simple: Prepare students and staff in case the unthinkable happens.

The students and staff are taught to lock themselves inside a classroom or closet. The only way to get out is if a police officer or administrator unlocks the door.

"They're not supposed to open the door for anyone because the intruder, the bad guy, could be saying they're from the police. They're going to try to get them to open the door," Sonagere said.

Family and consumer science teacher Chris Campo and her students refused to come out. The officers did not have a key to her door and told them it was all clear. But she refused to unlock the door from the inside until she saw police in the window.

"I felt my job was to keep them safe, so I wasn't going to come out unless they opened the door.  I just assumed they had a key to it," she said after finally emerging from a tiny closet.

The SROs spend a lot of time in the district's other schools as well. Both officers have big soft spots for the smallest students.

"We're really trying to get them to see that we're good guys. They know they can come to us at anytime. We love to high-five them. We're here to protect them and watch after them," Dinkelman said.

The officers make a point to spend lots of time inside classrooms. 

"We both volunteered. When I heard it come up, Sandy Hook kind of kicked everything off with a lot of schools and police departments, so I volunteered for it. I thought it was a great opportunity," Dinkelman said. 

"I think Sandy Hook hit home because they were so young and that's why we added a second SRO," Sonagere said.

A second pair of eyes to keep the precious little students safe. 

"You can do everything in the world, but there are crazy people out there. You can't prevent every single one of them. With the security measures we're putting into place, I'm pretty confident it won't happen here," Sonagere said.

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