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Police get word out about safety as school resumes

It's 11 a.m. Do you know where your children are? Hopefully for the parents, they're at school, beginning Monday.

Truancy, along with graffiti, is the biggest school-related problem that the Metropolitan Police Department deals with, according to officer Jeff Willis.

"High school kids play hooky a lot," he said.

Willis said he would drive students back to school and escort them to the principal's office "all the time."

Willis talked about these issues at a summer safety and information fair hosted Aug. 8 by the city of Las Vegas at Kelly Elementary School, 1900 J St. The fair was primarily an opportunity for local students and parents to socialize and get information about family services. Willis said he and other officers came to "just be a presence."

"Years ago, these kids wouldn't have anything to do with law enforcement," he said. "They would have come to this, seen us and turned around. Now they've gotten used to us as a part of the community."

Willis said his department handles everything away from schools, but closer by, the Clark County School District Police Department has other concerns.

No. 1 among them, said school police Lt. Ken Young, always will be traffic safety. Young recommends that parents rehearse with kids how to walk to school and navigate an intersection.

"The biggest concern is elementary (schools)," Young said. "A lot of it has to do with the age of the kids. Their height can sometimes make them undetectable."

Young said his department also will focus more this year on keeping unauthorized prescription drugs out of schools. And it all starts at home. "Parents need to police their prescriptions," Young said.

Clark County School District police had 185 cases last school year of kids in possession of medications, primarily in high schools.

Kids with legitimate prescriptions need to follow a few rules.

In elementary school, parents must give the medication to their school's health office, which will administer it accordingly. Kids in middle school and older can take medicine themselves but must have their parents' written permission on file with the office. Their medication also must be in a labeled container with the student's name and dosage information.

For more information about medications, call the child's school.

Middle school kids can expect to see a lot more police around this year.

Traditionally, high schools have been the focal point of the 165-officer school district department. Beginning this school year, officers will have dedicated times to patrol middle schools, Young said.

Back-to-school safety does not end when the bell rings, either.

Tim Szymanski, public education and information officer for Las Vegas Fire & Rescue, urges parents to make their homes as safe as possible for unsupervised kids after school.

Szymanski had two main points: Do not let kids cook and do not leave out matches and lighters.

"Kids should never cook," he said. "If (kids) are going to eat, it should be cold cuts and crackers, things that don't require cooking."

Szymanski said the majority of fires he responds to that involve kids are cooking related, and most fires were started by teenagers. He urges parents to create an emergency plan for their kids and walk them through it in case of such incidents.

A back-to-school safety fair is planned Sept. 7 at Monaco Middle School, 1870 N. Lamont St. Officers and school officials will be on hand to address any concerns.

For more information, visit or call 799-7830.

Contact View education reporter Jeff Mosier at or 224-5524.