(Springfield, Mo.) Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers may soon be seen at a school near you.
"Sadly what we’ve seen over the years with the threats of school shootings and active shooters know that we are taking an active role in trying to provide the safest environment within our communities and our schools is one of them," explains Sergeant Jason Pace, Public Information Officer, Missouri State Highway Patrol.
Pace says an increase in shootings taking place on school campuses across the country was the impetus to step up their initiative that has troopers stopping in schools state wide on a regular basis.
"It’s going to be random. I mean it’s not just going to be just a specific time everyday, every week."
Pace says the highway patrol launched its school walk-through initiative during the 2015-16 school year after a rash of school threats. Since it's taken off they've made more than 2,500 visits to schools.
"I think it continues to be an important role of the patrol to provide a service not just on our highways and waterways, but also to provide a service to our communities."
Authorities say the presence of a patrol vehicle outside a school and a trooper interacting with students could prevent a threat or worse.
"The safety of our students is paramount. That’s our whole goal; that we won’t have anymore of these situations."
He adds the idea is for troopers to walk through the schools to build a relationship with students and staff, and become familiar with the full layout of the schools.
"Whether it be the city or the county agencies that already have developed relationships with those schools districts. It’s all of us working together again to provide safety in our school systems."
While available to any school district, patrol officials say they are focusing on establishing a presence in rural areas.
"We also look into the schools that may not have a school resource officer available or there may be a school that’s quite a ways from an emergency responder or emergency personnel so we may provide this service that these schools may never had."
Feedback to the plan from school administrators has been supportive.