ALPHARETTA, Ga. – In order to further protect students at Alpharetta Elementary School, a new police substation was added to allow for more officers to be on hand, as well as provide a place for students to go when they need help.
On Monday, Dec. 2, a ribbon cutting was held at the school, 192 Mayfield Road, to officially open the substation.
City officials in attendance included Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle, Fulton County Board of Education member Katie Reeves and Alpharetta Public Safety Director Gary George.
“As important as it is to make sure our schools are high quality, we have to make sure that they’re safe,” Belle Isle said. “This will provide that safe environment.”
Alpharetta Police Officer Phillip Ritchey had the idea for a police substation after the deadly shootings that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., last December.
Ritchey said that all Alpharetta schools have a police officer on site except for the elementary schools.
“They have SRO (student resource officer) signs, but officers aren’t there at all hours,” he said. “Now, police will always be coming in and out of the school.”
The substation is located at the front of the school, and while no police officers will permanently be stationed there, it will provide a place for them to use when they need to.
“We have over 100 officers that are employed in the city. Detectives can use this space, traffic officers can use it to finish reports — just as many people as we can fit to help boost the presence of police,” Ritchey said.
He added that a marked police car will always sit outside of the school.
In addition to providing more security, the substation will allow for students to familiarize themselves with the officers.
“It establishes relationships — if anything should ever happen, the students will know a police officer that they can go to when they need help. It’s a wonderful opportunity, and we’re very excited about it,” said AES Principal Adam Maroney.
Ritchey said it’s important for students to have that contact with police on a regular basis.
“It’s good to expose them to us at a young age so they understand that they can always come to us,” he said. “And so they know we won’t come arrest them if they’re not doing their homework.”
As for the future, Reeves said other school systems may follow suit and also add on police substations.
“If this works out, I think we could see other schools doing the same thing, because this really is an outside-the-box effort to keep our students safe,” she said.