MIDDLEBURG HEIGHTS, OH (WOIO) - Drive by any school in Middleburg Heights and you will see a police car in the parking lot, a police officer at the ready, in his car, patrolling the grounds or walking the halls of the school.
Every minute of every school day. It's part of a plan called Operation Protect Our Children. And, yes, it is in direct response to the school shooting tragedy in Connecticut.
"Anybody that wants to do harm to any of our children in Middleburg Heights are going to pay for it, and its going to be swift and its going to be effective," said Mayor Gary Starr as he discussed the program.
The Mayor, along with Safety Director Sandra Kerber and Police Chief John Maddox designed a three point program that features the officer at every school and also includes M-16 assault rifles in every police car, new body armor, and an increased training program including drills at every school.
"Unfortunately I can't deal with the causes, I have to react to the 911 calls and we have to do it immediately, and I can guarantee it won't be minutes, it will be seconds, and we're going to responding here," said the Mayor.
The program will not just center in around the police department, the Middleburg Heights fire department will be involved in the training and drills and they will also be issued body armor.
None of this will come cheap, but Middleburg Heights officials worked the financial numbers over the weekend and they just felt they had to make these moves, regardless of the added expense, "I don't know what kind of price tag you put on children or public safety, you have to weigh the two together and we feel this is important and what we should be doing," said Chief Maddox.