'We have to be prepared': Delaware County schools solidify safety plans by hiring officers

It’s back to school in a couple of weeks and not for just students and teachers, but police officers, too. Some area school districts spent the summer beefing up on-campus security for the upcoming school year.

When students at Interboro High School start classes next month, they’ll see a newcomer roaming the hallways – the school’s dedicated police officer.

"With the tragedies that happened across the country, we have to be prepared for any kind of event like that," explained Prospect Park Police Chief Dave Madonna.

Walking the halls of Interboro High School, Chief Madonna says after scenes from places like Uvalde and Sandy Hook, student security has become a top priority. And, not just for his department, but the parents they protect.


Back to school for police these days has taken on a different role.

"You walk around the school. You have to know what doors open, which doors are locked. Are doors propped open? These are things we look for," Madonna remarked.

Prospect Park is adding another level to school safety, in that a full-time police officer dedicated to Interboro High School for the upcoming school year. Officer Nick Denton was just hired to do the job.

"I would hope that parents see that as a positive thing that any given moment, if something were to go wrong and a police officer needs to be there, there is already one there to handle it," Denton stated.

Interboro is the latest Delaware County school putting officers on school campuses. Wallingford Swarthmore School District has plans to hire security personnel in district schools.

Officers say it’s not just about enforcing the law. Being a cop in school also means a little mentorship.

"The kids embrace it. They invite you into the classroom. ‘Can you read for a couple of minutes?,’ they ask, or, ‘Can you take some photos with us?,’ or, ‘Look what we’re doing in art class.’ I start to see that myself, when I walk through. They are embracing it," explained Prospect Park Police Sgt. Henry O’Neill.

It’s also a good back-to-school lesson for parents to ask questions about a school’s emergency safety plan and speak to children about what they will do in the event of a threat.