DANVILLE, Va. – Walking into Forest Hills Elementary School, students may have been expecting to be greeted by teachers and school administrators, but not by police officers.
"It's important to us that kids and their families get to know us, number one, and number two, feel safe," Danville Police Chief Scott Booth said.
Booth and a couple of officers hopped on buses, posed for pictures and even handed out stickers at each one of Danville's schools Thursday.
"We have a lot of work to do in our community to continuously make people feel safe, but I think this is a great step," Booth said.
"I think, in some cases, it can be a little worrisome to small children, but absolutely, I think a presence is important. It just shows that they are trying to make a point in the community of being around and aware," said Erin Parris, who has two children attending Forest Hills Elementary School.
"It's good to see the police out here because it gives the parents reassurance that the kids are going to be safe," said Tangenyika Ham, who has a child attending the school. "It's also good for the kids, as well, to be greeted by them, to let them know that they're friendly."
This is the second year the police department has sent its men and women in blue to welcome students back to class.
"We get a lot of positive feedback that we're out at the schools. We post it on Facebook, social media, whatever and, verbally, people come up and say, 'Thanks for being out here,'" Booth said.
"With everything going on in the world, it's good for the kids to know that they can still come to the police for anything," Ham said.