ELGIN, Ill. - One suburban school district is implementing several new measures to ensure that students and staff have a positive and safe school year. In Lansing, District 158 kicked things off with a back-to-school bash before classes start Wednesday.
"There’s a lot of research that supports that early intervention is very important and in this case we wanted to create that early intervention with positive, supportive police relationships," said Superintendent Nathan Schilling, Lansing School District 158.
One of the district’s safety initiatives was hiring a school resource officer (SRO) who will be dedicated to the district's five schools and nearly 2,700 students.
The district previously had a school resource officer for its high school, but this year, Lansing Police Detective Jennifer Lewis will work with students in all grade levels.
"I would love just to be that little buffer between the school district and the police department," said Lewis.
Lewis attended the back-to-school kickoff event Tuesday to meet parents and students ahead of the first day.
"It’s always very important to build bonds when they’re this young just to instill with them that the trust is there," said Lewis.
The Lansing police detective will respond to school emergencies, attend school events, and build relationships with families.
"To be someone they can trust when they need help, somebody to turn to if they’re being bullied. But most importantly just be there for them, have a better perception of law enforcement and that’s going to help our whole community," said Chief Alfred Phillips, Lansing Police Department.
Also new this year, all students will be required to use a clear backpack, provided free-of-charge by the district.
Last year, an unloaded gun was found in the backpack of a district student. Schilling said he felt strongly about taking steps to prevent something similar from happening in the future.
"We realized it was time to put more substantial security measures in place," said Schilling. "Clear backpacks will allow for a level of transparency with what's being brought in our schools in lieu of a metal detector."
In addition, new high-definition surveillance cameras are being installed throughout the district's buildings.
The district has also added a BluePoint alarm system, which essentially functions as a fire alarm for the police department.