Alpharetta police go ‘back to school’

Substation to open at Alpharetta Elementary School this fall

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ALPHARETTA, Ga. – Alpharetta Police and the Fulton County School System have entered into a unique partnership that establishes a police substation inside the school building during school hours.

The substation will be located in an office within the school and provides space and equipment for officers to write reports, make phone calls and complete other tasks normally done inside the patrol car. At no time will officers bring arrestees, suspects or witnesses to the police substation for any reason. The substation will also be available to Fulton’s school resource officers.

There is no cost to the district for the police substation, and furniture for the office was donated by Winthrope Properties and Lowe’s on Windward Parkway.

“This collaborative relationship between Fulton County Schools, Alpharetta Public Safety and our community will greatly benefit all involved parties and especially the students,” said Alpharetta Public Safety Director Gary D. George. “By placing a substation within the school, security is enhanced and our police officers will have a location to use that will assist them in providing more effective and efficient police services to our community.”

The agreement was approved by the Fulton School Board during the Sept. 19 board meeting, and the substation should be operational by Oct. 1.

Alpharetta Principal Adam Maroney welcomes the substation and sees the benefits the police presence will bring to the school.

“This partnership will increase police presence in our building, enhancing the safety and security procedures currently in place,” said Maroney. “Students will also benefit from potential relationships they will build with the officers.”

He said officers will be encouraged to walk the halls, have lunch in the cafeteria or participate in recess with the AES students.

“Hopefully these relationships will carry into the community and students will feel a level of comfort if they need to seek support from an officer,” said Maroney.

The idea of a school-based substation came from Alpharetta Police Officer Paul Ritchey following the Newtown school shooting last December. He did some research and found a city in Arizona that had opened a police substation at a local school.

“A principal at a school in Goodyear (Ariz.) approached the police chief and they created one at the principal’s school,” said Ritchey. “It was a major success.”

For now, there are no plans for substations at other Alpharetta schools, however Ritchey said there is always the possibility to expand the program.