Teurlings Catholic High welcomes school resource officer

The new school year at Teurlings Catholic High School will bring many new faces to the campus in August, including a Lafayette police officer.

The private school partnered with Lafayette police to provide a school resource officer as an additional security measure for the campus, said Bruce Baudier, an assistant principal at Teurlings who supervises discipline at the school.

Lafayette police Sgt. Mark Francis said the police officer will receive school resource officer training this summer and start at Teurlings in August.

Francis supervises school resource officers working in Lafayette city schools.

Police officers and sheriff’s deputies in Lafayette Parish work on public school, middle school and high school campuses as school resource officers and provide security, as well as help to address major incidents.

The Lafayette Parish public school system created new safety officer positions earlier this year on some of its campuses to help curb discipline issues.

Baudier said security rather than discipline concerns prompted the new school resource officer position at Teurlings, where there have been only two fights in the past five years.

Francis said Teurlings has several gated entries to its campus that remain open during the school day and pedestrian traffic is also an issue with walkers cutting through the property.

“They don’t have a lot of the issues we face on public school campuses. What their emphasis is on in police terms is hardening the target, meaning you have someone there to make it difficult for a bad guy coming onto campus and doing something,” Francis said.

The “target” in this case is the school and simply parking a police unit in front of campus can “harden” or strengthen security, Francis said.

Over the past few years, Baudier said, incidents of school violence in other parts of the country prompted school officials to routinely evaluate campus security and potential interventions.

“Every time something would happen, you’d ask: ‘What can you do?’ ” he said.

The Sandy Hook school tragedy in Newtown, Conn., led Baudier to invite state, parish and city law enforcement to the campus and offer guidance on how to make it safer.

“In my own mind, I can’t find something better than having a resource officer here,” Baudier said.

The school is paying for the officer’s salary, benefits, training and equipment at a cost of about $70,000, he said.