TUALATIN, Ore. – The Newtown elementary school shootings hit close to home for parents like Todd Randall.
“I’ll never forget that day,” he said. “It hurt. Deep.”
So much so that Randall and a group of fellow dads in Tualatin decided to form a watch group at their children’s kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school, Horizon Christian Schools. Called the Hawkeyes program, the volunteers take shifts patrolling the school’s campus.
Every Tuesday and Thursday morning, Randall is on shift. He’s the first person the kids see at school, as he greets them when cars pull up.
Parents have expressed gratitude for the new Hawkeyes program, which police say is the first local group of its type.
“The people that are involved in our school are there to protect our kids, and that they would give their time is just amazing,” said parent Debra Tomlinson.
Tualatin police also lauded the program, saying they support community policing efforts.
Once students are in their classrooms, Randall combs the campus to make sure the school is secure. He and the 24 other dads take turns on patrol, many of whom take time off work to volunteer.
“The teachers inside the classroom with the kids are focused on the kids,” Randall said. “They’re not watching out the windows.”
The new program may have already deterred a suspicious person, school officials say. Recently, a car pulled up and the driver kept strangely getting out of the car and moving the car forward a bit. A father on watch maintained eye contact with the driver, who eventually drove off.
“There’s no way that anybody on our staff would’ve known that,” said Horizon’s principal, Judi Smith. “We wouldn’t have anyone standing outside as a presence like that.”
All volunteers undergo a background check and are trained by a Tualatin police school resource officer.