By Bob Skolnik
In the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School in Parkland, Florida, in February, Lyons Township High School and the village of LaGrange have teamed up to assign an armed police officer to the LTHS North Campus this year.
LaGrange police officer Tim Andries has been assigned as the school resource officer for the North Campus, where juniors and seniors attend classes. Andries has been a LaGrange police officer since 2012 and has worked for four years in DARE anti-drug program and one year in investigations. He is a certified juvenile officer.
Prior to becoming a police officer, Andries served in the United States Army for four years. Andries will be at North Campus on school days and certain special events.
LTHS and the village of LaGrange will split the cost of Andries' salary and benefits. The arrangement is projected to cost LTHS about $78,000.
For the past decade or so, there has been a Western Springs police officer working as a school resource officer at the freshmen-sophomore South Campus in a similar cost-sharing arrangement that is costing LTHS about the same amount of money. Western Springs Police Officer Ashlee Niezgoda is the South Campus school resource officer.
Andries' duties will include providing a visible police presence in the building, fostering positive relationships with staff and students and serving as resource for students, families, and staff.
He will have a role in school investigations and serve as a liaison between LTHS and police departments. He will also assist staff with security measures and work with students and parents on juvenile law issues.
"Having a full-time school resource officer on campus takes immediacy, preparedness, and responsiveness to a whole new level," said LTHS District 208 Superintendent Tim Kilrea in a press release. "LT and the LaGrange Police Department have always had a very collaborative and cooperative relationship. Dedicating an officer on a full-time basis to LT North Campus has been considered and discussed for years, and to see this position to come to fruition will be a huge asset for our students, staff, and families."
The District 204 Board of Education unanimously approved the intergovernmental agreement with the village of LaGrange to split the costs of the school resource officer at its Aug. 20 meeting.
"With the addition of a school resource officer at North Campus in conjunction with the Western Springs officer at South Campus, we now have consistency across the district," said District 204 school board President Tom Cushing in the press release.
The school resource officers at LTHS typically dress in plain clothes but carry firearms.
The school resource officers assigned to LTHS remain employees of their respective police departments.
In recent years area schools have been strengthening their security measures. Last year, Riverside-Brookfield High School hired former North Riverside Police Chief Lane Niemann to be a full-time school resource officer at that school.