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      Police visit Columbia schools daily to stop violence

      Columbia police officers are stepping up patrols at both public and private schools.

      Police administrators started a new school visitation program where officers visit various schools throughout the day to improve safety.

      Columbia police administrators said school officials are welcoming the presence of uniformed officers.

      Teachers, parents and students are more aware of security these days after the school tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.

      Police officers said they are focusing on the entrances to buildings and trailers on school campuses across Columbia.Officers said they are not worried about people inside locked buildings. They are more concerned about suspicious people on the outside trying to enter buildings unnoticed.

      Police said their increased security at schools also gives them an opportunity to build better relationships with faculty, staff and students at the various schools.

      Police administrators said they first came up with idea several months ago, before the Connecticut shootings, when someone assaulted a staff member near Jefferson Junior High School.

      Some Columbia public schools always have a school resource officer on campus to handle any security problems. However, police administrators said there will be some days when they are short staffed and miss some school visits.

      Columbia public school administrators are also working on security upgrades. They want to install buzzer entry systems at all of their schools with video camera surveillance.