NEW ALBANY, Miss. (WTVA) — Recent violent occurences at schools across the country have brought an even greater need for security on school campuses.
In New Albany, Lieutenant P.J. Doyle was named the new school resource officer at New Albany Elementary.
"Cheese. Cheese, cheese, cheese," said Officer Doyle as he handed out pizza to students.
To some, it may have seemed a trivial task for a well-trained law enforcement veteran, but for him, it comes with the territory.
He started on the first day after Christmas, and he's been going at it ever since, bringing smiles to the faces of the elementary students.
"The kids, I believe, are very excited about having Officer Doyle on campus with us," said principal Windy Faulkner. "Some of them come up to him and say, 'You're the bad guy,' and that gives him a chance to make those connections and let the students know, 'No, I'm not a bad guy."
Lieutenant Doyle is the first resource officer at New Albany Elementary.
In his words, it's never a bad idea to have a policeman on campus.
"The first line of defense against an intruder is just being here," said Doyle. "And there's lots of other things as far as the community relations with the kids. And I want them to know that we are for them, not against them."
"This will make all three of our schools — the high school, middle school and elementary school — all have resource officers," said New Albany School District Superintendent Jackie Ford.
It's a program that New Albany's police chief says is definitely needed.
"Times are different, and things are different. I would love to tell you that school resource officers are not needed, but they are," responded Chief Chris Robertson.
Doyle says he and the chief will soon map a curriculum to show the kids that he and other officers are their friends, not the enemy.
In the meantime, he says he will continue to make his rounds on campus.