River Hills police collaborate with University School to keep students safe

Some village trustees want more details of how resources are being used

Feb. 27, 2013

River Hills - School safety has been a hot topic in recent months in the aftermath of the Newtown, Conn., tragedy. River Hills officials have been working toward attempts at ensuring students within the village are as safe as possible.

In his monthly report to the River Hills Village Board, Police Chief Tom Rischmann said a portion of officers' daily duties are dedicated to patrolling University School of Milwaukee, the private K-12 preparatory school that has 1,086 students enrolled and represents a majority of the village's school population.

"The department has started a walk-through program at University School," Rischmann wrote in his report. "Officers on first and second shift will pick an area of the school and make their presence known."

While there have not been any reports of suspicious activity at USM that would result in credible safety concerns, school and village officials say they are working in tandem to be proactive.

"The feedback that the officers and I are getting from the administrators, faculty, students and support personnel has been extremely positive," Rischmann wrote.

Trustee R. David Fritz, who is aware of the collaborative effort in place, echoed Rischmann's comments at last week's board meeting.

"It's really sad, but they have a whole plan in place for finding safe rooms if something were to happen," Fritz said of the work USM staff have undertaken.

While the board was largely supportive of village officers collaborating with USM to ensure the entire school and its grounds were secure, there were concerns about how officers use their time in the overall mix of daily responsibilities.

Several trustees said they would like further information on the collaboration, expressing a belief the board is in the business of managing resources throughout the community.

Plans call for Rischmann to appear at the next regular board meeting in March to discuss the partnership in greater detail.

"I think that will go a long way in addressing your concerns," Village Attorney William Dineen said amid the questions being raised.

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