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New program brings Farmington officers into schools

Farmington parents might spot police officers in the elementary school buildings a few times next year, but it's all for a good reason.

In the fall, the Farmington police department begins its new Blue in the Schools program. The program brings police officers into the school buildings on a regular basis.

Farmington police chief Brian Lindquist is implementing the new initiative this year as an outreach program to make kids and parents more familiar with police officers.

"A lot of people don't like to call the police when they see something. They think they're bothering us, but we want them to call us. We want to hear from them," Lindquist said. "This will give those people an opportunity to get to get to know us, so that if they think they should call, they will."

The Farmington Police Department and the city of Farmington already partner with School District 192 to keep one liaison officer in the high school, and one available for the two middle schools. Blue in the Schools adds to it that arrangement.

Through Blue in the Schools, different police officers will stop in to the city's elementary schools on a weekly basis. Officers will stop in at different times of the day, and different days each week. The idea, Lindquist said, is to put officers into the buildings on a consistent basis, but keep their visits from becoming predictable.

"If we can do something to make the schools safer, we're going to do it. If somebody is thinking about doing something in a school building, but drives by and sees a squad in front of the school, that's a big deterrent," he said.

Officers participating in Blue in the Schools will stop in as part of their daily patrol duties, so the program adds no extra cost to either the police department or the school district. Lindquist hopes to make it a long-term program.

Burnsville has a similar program, Lindquist said, and it has proven popular with parents, students and school staff alike. He's hoping Farmington's project will yield the same results.

"There's so many benefits I could give you. It's just a win-win situation for us to be in the schools," he said.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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