Carmel PD officer shares tips to keep students safe

(WISH Photo)

CARMEL, Ind. (WISH) – Going back to school also means it’s time to think about safety.

24-Hour News 8’s Scott Sander spoke with an officer who spends every day in the hallways and classrooms.

DJ Schoeff is a dad, one of Carmel police department’s finest, and a national leader among school resource officers. His back-to-school safety checklist has a huge range.

“First and foremost, we want the traffic around our schools to be very cautious,” Schoeff said.

During the summer months many drivers might zip through school zones because no kids are around. But Schoeff said that has to stop.

“We need to make sure our kids get here safely every day.”

Oddly, there’s a new twist to the school zone concerns – now that many schools show up as stops in the popular game Pokemon Go. At first Schoeff didn’t know anything about the game but now that he’s done “research” on zubats and jigglepuffs, Schoeff has concerns about distracted “trainers”.

“Those are important things to remember, especially for our youth as they are playing Pokemon Go, to maintain their awareness,” said Schoeff.

So students: look up! And drivers: slow down.

Once at the building, entering the building is easy for students and adults who work at schools. But parents – pack an ID – and a reason for being there – otherwise, in most districts, you are not going inside.

“Most will have what we call a single point of entry – one doorway that any visitor would enter into the building,” Schoeff said.

Those steps are in place to prevent the awful kinds of things no one wants to think about, but must be ready for.

“We don’t want to have our kids have a belief something bad is going to happen. But we need to have them prepared in case there is,” Schoeff said.

Schoeff said kids, even the very young ones, will go through drills on the possibility of intruders.

“We have worked very hard to introduce it – not in a level of fear, not in a level of scare, but in a level of mental preparation so they have the ability to react if the time comes,” Schoeff said.

Another current safety and security issue in society (and therefore schools) is the anger some people have toward police officers right now – and the fear that officers may feel because of it.

Officer Schoeff says he hopes students feel like they can talk to him and other resource officers about it. He says he knows he’s building a good relationship with students when they trust him with difficult, uncomfortable, topics.

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