LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

McKINNEY -- When students in McKinney ISD returned to class Tuesday, they found an increased police presence. It's part of a new program administrators say is designed to keep students safer.

Cockrill Middle School is one of five with a resource officer assigned to the building.

McKinney Police and school district officials say adding police officers at middle schools has been in the works for more than a year, before the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut. But they agree part of the impact will be giving teachers, parents and students peace of mind.

"Some of you may have seen the police officers in the building this morning," said Cockrill Middle School Principal Melinda DeFelice told the students Tuesday. "From now on, all middle schools will have an SRO, a school resource officer, on campus. Ours is Officer King."

Daryl King is the new school resource officer at Cockrill. His official role is to establish a good relationship with students and faculty. His assignment is to roam the campus.

"Being a parent myself and having three kids in the district, it s comforting -- if nothing else, to know there s an officer on-site to handle anything that may need police attention," King said.

McKinney police provided the district with school resource officers until six years ago. They were taken out of the schools because of budget constraints. The plan to move them back has been in the works for a year, long before the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut.

The massacre is still fresh on the minds of parents and students, including eighth grader Lindy Patterson.

"Some people were kind of stressed out about that," she said. "I think that makes us feel a little better about that. I think we're a little more prepared for anything that can happen."

Teachers and parents like Kier Burke are happy to see them back.

"I think it s a wonderful thing that our community s officers are here working in conjunction with us to educate our children," Burke said.

Police officers will also continue to make daily stops at McKinney s 20 elementary schools. Resource officers are already on staff at each of the district s three high schools.

The district and the police department split the cost for McKinney ISD's 11 school resource officers. Each agency pays $400,000 for what they describe as an investment in school safety.

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com

Read or Share this story: http://www.wfaa.com/story/news/local/education/2014/08/18/14044366/