Atlanta Public Schools debut new police force

ATLANTA — Students at Atlanta Public Schools will notice some new faces this year.            

The schools will now have a dedicated police force to patrol the halls of every Atlanta school.

School officials say the police department is there to keep students safe and help them achieve.

"I'm a graduate of Atlanta Public Schools. I'm a product of Atlanta Public Schools," said APS Chief of Police Ronald Applin.

Applin says the nearly 70 officers are experienced and most have bachelor's degrees.

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The department has been in existence since 2004 but only had a few officers on staff.

Applin said the change came when the district decided to bring in officers who were more in line with the concepts that the school system wanted to implement.

"Positive behavioral intervention. Social, emotional learning,” Applin said.

Channel 2’s Audrey Washington asked Applin what type of power the officers will have on campus.

"Every single officer is a certified police officer," Applin said. "They are certified. Georgia POST certified. They do have the power to arrest, yes."

Applin says more importantly, the officers will be visible with one purpose: getting kids through school and to graduation.

"We’re going to be engaged,” Applin said.

In light of some of the past school shootings across the nation, the chief says security will also be top priority with officers walking the grounds and keeping an eye out for any suspicious behavior.