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Armed Volunteer Deputies To Patrol Elementary Schools In Larimer County

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FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4)- A new security program in Larimer County will put armed volunteer deputies on patrol at some elementary schools.

Those schools are located in Loveland, Berthoud and Fort Collins.

“I think that’s awesome. I think it’s great that the kids will get protection like everybody else,” said parent Whitney Miller.

Parents concerned about school violence and safety spurred the new marshal program. Some even offered to lead those volunteer patrols.

Not everyone agrees on the solution.

“What difference is it going to make having a deputy in the school, how is that going to make it safer?” said parent Cathryne Preston.

The Larimer County Sheriff’s Office plans to staff elementary schools with reserve deputies.

“Kind of sad that it comes to that point where you have to have officers at an elementary school,” said parent Tim Foglesong.

Starting this month 25 volunteer deputies will patrol schools in three communities. Those deputies will have the same powers as any other sworn officer.

The Thompson Schools Marshal Program was designed by Larimer Co. Sheriff Sgt. Jeff Vanhook after the deadly shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in December 2012.

“We did hear a lot of concerned citizens that wanted to come and protect our children. We all want to protect our children,” said Vanhook.

The Thompson School District released this statement: “Exploring methods to enhance safety and security for Thompson students, staff and visitors is a key priority for the district. This new effort will operate in conjunction with the district’s successful School Resource Officer program maintained in partnership with the Loveland Police Department. We are very proud of that great relationship and we look forward to expanding our efforts with this new program and partnership with the sheriff’s department.”

Even though parents volunteered to lead those armed patrols Vanhook said the idea won’t work and put trained deputies on patrol instead.

“Because at least the deputy is a trained professional,” said Preston.

The Thompson School Board voted in favor of the marshal program. Those with questions are invited to attend two meetings. The first is Monday, April 14 at Berthoud Elementary School from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. and the second at Coyote Ridge Elementary School on Tuesday April 15 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.

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