When school opens Tuesday, there will be a police officer assigned to the city’s public elementary schools, thanks to additional federal funding.
For the past several years, officers have worked at the two middle schools, Minnie Howard and T. C. Williams. Officer Terri Mucci will join their ranks, assigned to cover all 13 of the elementary schools.
“I will try to visit as many of the schools as I can each morning and in the afternoon,” Mucci said. “My goal is to get to know the kids and to plan programs that will be helpful to the principals and the staff.”
One of those first programs will be bike safety. “I’m looking for a way to get to know the kids in a very non-threatening way,” Mucci said. “Most kids ride bikes and, as a member of the Be Safe Coalition, this is a program that we have been conducting in schools and around the city for kids for a while.”
Mucci will teach children about riding their bikes safely and about wearing helmets all of the time and properly. “I plan to ride my bike from school to school,” she said. “Not only is this good exercise for me but it will provide a good example for the kids.”
Sgt. Juan Torres supervises the School Resource Officers. “All of our school resource officers work closely with school staff to make sure that students are safe,” he said. “The Alexandria Public school system does an excellent job as far as safety is concerned. I would feel very safe in placing my own child in one of the city’s schools. Their safety record is excellent.
“The school resource officers also spend a lot of time on dealing with truancy,” Torres said. “If they see children on the streets at a time when they shouldn’t be there, they deal with those students, with their parents and with school staff.”
THERE WILL BE a new school resource officer at T. C. Williams High School this fall. Michael May has served as a community police officer and a residential police officer for many years. This knowledge of the community will help both May and Mucci in their new jobs.
“I’ve certainly had an opportunity to get to know many of these kids in my previous jobs,” May said. “I really like high school-age kids. I have one of my own, as a matter of fact.”
May will begin his job every morning at 7:30, greeting buses as they arrive at the school and will end the day as buses leave at 3:30 p.m. Open lunch adds complexity to his day.
“Because the kids are allowed to leave campus at lunch, there are sometimes issues at Bradlee Shopping Center,” May said. “I will work closely with business owners at Bradlee [shopping center] to make sure that there are no problems.”
ALL OF THE SCHOOL resource officers would like to have bicycles. The department applied for federal funds to purchase these bikes last year but did not receive the funding.
“Some of these schools are quite large,” said Officer Jill Lingle, who works at George Washington Middle School. “A bike would help all of us get from one area of the grounds to another much more quickly in case of an emergency.”
Torres agreed. “Most of the school resource officers are bicycle trained,” he said. “Bikes would be a real asset to us.”
The bikes cost about $1,000 each. There are five school resource officers. Anyone who is interested in providing funding should contact the Alexandria Police Foundation or talk to the school resource officer at one of the schools.
RESOURCE OFFICERS —
Officer Terri Mucci, Elementary Schools
Officer Jill Lingle, George Washington Middle School
Officer Tracy Leake, Francis Hammond Middle School
Officer Tony Sydnor, Minnie Howard Ninth Grade Center
Officer Michael May, T. C. Williams High School