TERRE HAUTE —
In a private-public partnership to support school safety, the Vigo County Sheriff’s Department unveiled its first Hemi Charger patrol car for the School Protection Program on Wednesday.
Donated by Scott’s Custom Colors, the car will be parked outside Otter Creek Middle School when Deputy Chris Mundy or another safety officer is on duty during the school day.
Chief Deputy Clark Cottom commended business owner Scott McDaniel for stepping forward to purchase the police car for the program. McDaniel also donated the painting of two Crown Victoria patrol cars for schools in West Terre Haute.
In all, McDaniel made a $15,000 donation to the school protection program to provide the three used police vehicles.
“We really need to help the community out, to keep the schools safe,” McDaniel said Wednesday as the Charger was parked outside the middle school.
McDaniel noted that he attended school Otter Creek Middle School and Terre Haute North Vigo High School, as did his children, Josh and Jess, who also work at his North 25th Street business.
Vigo School Superintendent Danny Tanoos said that school safety is a necessity these days, and even with the new school year under way for only three days, safety officers have handled two incidents at local schools.
In one instance, a patron was arrested for driving erratically on school property. Another suspicious person was also investigated.
“We have quickly realized that the officers in the building are taking care of a lot of things,” Tanoos said, citing examples of upset parents and custody disputes. “Having this beautiful car parked outside a school tells people there is an officer inside who will take care of our students and staff.
Otter Creek Principal Tammy Rowshandel said that Deputy Mundy is well-known to both parents and students as an athletics coach.
“He’s just an extension of our school community,” Rowshandel said. “I think the parents, staff and kids all feel safer and secure.”
Tanoos noted that in the current times of school shootings and violence, a school in Georgia had an incident Tuesday involving a gunman who was subdued by police. The professional response to the situation by the school staff was credited with safely evacuating students.
Cottom said that anyone else interested in sponsoring a school safety car can contact either the school corporation or the sheriff’s department for more information.
Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.