OREM, Utah – In the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, an Orem father is taking a closer look at security at his kids’ school and vowing to do something about it.
Joe Tuiaana has two elementary school kids and says the events made him think about his own kids.
“I was like thousands of other parents that afternoon when I picked them up from school,” says Tuiaana. “[I] hugged them and kissed them and cried right there on the playground."
Tuiaana already volunteers at Cherry Hill Elementary, but wanted to do more about safety. He spoke to the principal about a Watchdog program. Similar programs are already in place at other Alpine District schools.
“It’s a very organized program where there is someone different at the school every day to be what’s called the watch dog,” says Alpine School District Spokesperson Rhonda Bromley.
Watchdog is a national program where dads, grandparents, and any adult male volunteer at the school to be present with the kids, and watch out for suspicious activity.
They’re not armed guards. The district doesn't endorse armed guards, but expects parents and teachers to follow local laws regarding guns on campus.
“The expectation is that employees and parents both, we’re working together,” says Bromley. “We don’t need anyone just on their own, to go off and do anything. We need to work together.”
Guns or not, parents say they’re excited about the idea of extra eyes looking out for trouble on campus.
“I think the sooner you notice a problem,” says Cherry Hill Parent Erick Ardmore. “If you can catch a guy in the parking lot pulling a gun out of the car, you can lock down the school faster.”
“I think it’s a great idea, really good idea actually,” says Cherry Hill parent Kendra Waite. “I’ll volunteer to help out if they need somebody to help.”
Tuiaana says guns may be a discussion down the road, but for now he just wants to have that presence for their kids’ security.
“I’m probably not going to stop a guy like that, who’s armed to the teeth,” says Tuiaana. “But I tell you what, I’ll do whatever I can.”
Tuiaana says he’s still looking for recruits for the program. He hopes to have patrols up and going by next week.